These South Tyneside parents will always be grateful to the NHS as it celebrates its 70th anniversary today.
Joanne Rees, has double the reason to be eternally thankful for all of the hard work which the NHS carries out.
Eldest daughter Neve Rees-Burton was born with Joubert Syndrome (JS) – a rare genetic condition which has stopped part of her brain forming.
As a result the 13 -year-old has a range of medical issues, including being unable to speak, breathing and balance problems, as well as being registered blind.
After being diagnosed at eight weeks old, mum Joanne, from Marsden, South Shields, was told her daughter probably wouldn’t live through infancy, and the family have counted every year since as a blessing.
Then youngest daughter Isla, now five, was born with congenital hip dysplasia and needed various treatments to aid her walking.
I hope you continue to provide such brilliant careSonia Morton
Joanne said: “With both of my girls we have had more than our fair share of the NHS.
“Neve has had ongoing health issues related to her JS and since birth she sees numerous consultants in various hospitals around the North East, her consultants are always available if I need to query anything at all.
“Sometimes it’s just a 10-minute phonecall, but often it eases any worries I may have. Sometimes they reply to my emails in between clinics, and other times they squeeze us in to their already over subscribed clinics.
“Isla’s consultant for her congenital hip dysplasia has always been more than helpful and easy to talk to again allaying any fears or questions we have had in the past.”
Joanne is also aware how lucky her family are to benefit from free treatment.
She added: “I have a lot of friends with children and young adults with JS in America and when I see them having to trawl around for the best consultants and often worrying whether they can afford treatments which will inevitably help their bairns.
“I am so grateful that we have the NHS.”
The NHS has also had a huge impact on Layton Simon who ended up benefiting from three different hospitals during his first few weeks of life.
The now six-year-old gave his mum Sonia Morton the surprise of her life after she went into labour with him while enjoying a Westlife concert in Manchester at just 27 weeks pregnant.
He was born on June 9 weighing just 2lbs 7oz and spent four days at the city’s St Mary’s hospital before being transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he was given medication for a dot on the heart – which would have become a hole in the heart as he grew.
Then, almost a fortnight later, he was moved to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where he steadily gained weight until Sunday, August 26.
Layton is now thriving but has been left with chronic lung disease.
Sonia, 46, from Marsden, South Shields, said: “When Layton was first born he wasn’t breathing so I basically owe the NHS big time.
“There’s not many babies who get to try our three different hospitals at such a young age and he certainly put them all to good use.
“He has ended up with chronic lung disease and on some days if it’s too windy he can’t catch his breath, or will be sick, so we will need to take him to hospital for treatment immediately.
“This is why I am so passionate for such NHS services to stay here in South Tyneside as when you have a child who is struggling to breath you need to get them help as quickly as you possibly can.”
Sonia added: “Happy birthday NHS, I hope you continue to provide such brilliant care for many more years to come.”