A special and unique doll has been made for a brave girl whose arms and legs were amputated last year as she received life-saving care at our Children’s Hospital.
Alayna Bahar was urgently transferred and spent time on the hospital’s specialist Paediatric Intensive Care Unit after being diagnosed as being in septic shock during the spring of 2019.
Her condition meant she suffered multiple organ dysfunction which meant she required cardiovascular, respiratory and renal support. Sadly, the severity of the sepsis infection meant the tissue in her arms and legs died and, in order to stop the infection spreading to other parts of her body, her limbs were amputated.
Thankfully, Alayna, who is now three-years-old, recovered and after months of care, was able to go back home with mum and dad, Sajda and Barry, to their Bordesley Green home.
She continues to be cared for by the hospital’s Hand and Upper Limb team and, when taking part in a trial of virtual clinics, the hospital’s Service Manager, Sarah Haywood, noticed Alayna was playing doctor with one of her toy dolls and was trying to remove the arms and legs. Mum confirmed her daughter did this as her favourite toy “didn’t look like her”.
Sarah got thinking and scoured the internet to see if she could find a doll manufacturer that would make a doll with amputated limbs but, despite her wide search, she couldn’t find any companies in the UK or elsewhere that would be able to ship the toy over.
Amy Maclean, who works at the Trust but also spends time volunteering with the Hand and Upper Limbs team joined the search and successfully contacted Remap - a national charity who uses engineering and technology to enable people with disability issues to gain as much independence in their daily lives as possible.
It’s West Midlands Panel Chairman, Philip Watts, wrote back and said they’d be delighted to work together on remaking a suitable doll – something they’d never done previously. Amy then purchased a doll, picked by mum, Sadja, as it resembled her daughter, before it was sent over to Remap where the magic happened.
Philip, with the help of his wife, Shirley, worked painstakingly on remodelling the doll in Alayna’s image finishing things off with a Minnie Mouse dress and headband, her favourite cartoon character. She couldn’t contain her excitement when it was presented to her as a surprise.
Mum, Sadja Bi, said: “We honestly couldn’t believe it when we saw the doll that had been made for Alayna. It’s hard to express just how grateful we are to everyone involved. It was such a kind and thoughtful gesture. It’s one that we’ll all cherish forever as it’s made such a difference.
“Without the teams at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Alayna might not be here. We’re so, so thankful for their continued support.”
Amy Maclean, who is the Children’s Network Senior Project Manager at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We all heard of Alayna’s story and wanted to do something to help. What we were looking to do was obviously unique but we were delighted that Philip and Shirley at Remap took on the challenge. We’re really thankful of their support.
“As well as being a favourite toy the new bespoke doll will also help our dedicated team explain about prosthetics as this special little girl continues her journey with them. The doll will get its own set to help with the understanding, so it will have a real lasting legacy.
Philip Watts, who volunteers for the charity Remap, said: “The request was certainly not one that we’d had before but when we heard the story behind it we just had to help in any way we could.
“It did take some time but it most certainly a pleasure and we’re delighted it’s proved to be popular with Alayna and her family.”