More Smiles Appeal reaches £2 million mark for children's intensive care unit

The children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital is poised for a major expansion and refurbishment after the More Smiles Appeal reached its £2 million target.

The success of the appeal – a joint appeal by Imperial Health Charity and COSMIC – has paved the way for the long-awaited revamp.

With almost double the number of beds, a dedicated bereavement room and more space for staff, the new and improved unit will be equipped to treat an extra 200 children a year and provide a more comfortable environment for families.

Dr Simon Nadel, children’s intensive care consultant and clinical lead, said: “Reaching the £2 million mark means we can start preparing for life in an expanded and refurbished unit, enabling us to provide even better care to more critically ill children and their families.”

Initial construction work began at St Mary’s earlier this year, and the refurbishment is due to be completed in early 2019.

The end of the appeal follows a two-and-a-half year fundraising campaign led by the two charities, with support from local businesses, schools, community groups and corporate partners.

Former patients who owe their lives to the unit’s pioneering staff have also backed the appeal by taking part in sponsored sporting challenges and organising their own fundraising events.

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: “When we launched our appeal in November 2015 we were under no illusions about the scale of the challenge. So it is testament to the hard work and generosity of everyone who has supported us along the way that we are finally able to celebrate reaching our goal.

“The impact that this appeal will have on hundreds of families cannot be overstated. With a new and improved unit, the incredible team of dedicated staff on the children’s intensive care unit can go on doing what they do best – saving lives.”

Around 400 children with life-threatening infectious diseases are admitted to the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s every year. However, hundreds more are turned away due to the lack of space.

The expansion will almost double the bed capacity – from eight to 15 - allowing the unit to care for an extra 200 children a year.

Some of the money raised during the appeal will be spent on a dedicated room for parents and a special bereavement room to support families who lose a loved one.

In addition to the £2 million raised through the appeal, Imperial Health Charity awarded a grant of £2.8 million to contribute a total of £4.8 million – half the total cost of the project.