A MOTHER from Dorchester whose six-month-old baby spent Christmas in hospital wants to thank the people who donated to the Dorset Echo Toy Appeal for their generosity.

Lauren Harris’s baby daughter Bella was taken to Dorset County Hospital on Friday, December 23 after Mrs Harris and her husband Michael noticed Bella was struggling to breathe properly.

The frightening time for the family and a diagnosis of bronchiolitis for Bella meant the family spent all of Christmas in hospital – but presents from the Toy Appeal and a visit from Father Christmas made things much better.

Mrs Harris said: “We went to see our GP as Bella’s breathing was very rapid and they sent us to the Kingfisher Ward and Bella was put on oxygen straight away.

“She was on the maximum amount she could have and the doctors said if she didn’t improve then Bella would have to be put to sleep and have a ventilator to breathe for her.”

Mrs Harris said: “It was frightening and we were told she would be in hospital for all of Christmas. We have two other children, Daniel, five, and Amelia, three, and when Bella wasn’t getting any better I thought Christmas would be ruined for everyone and I felt really upset for all my children.”

But thanks to the Toy Appeal, and nurses who dressed up as elves on the Kingfisher Ward, Mrs Harris’s children all got a nice surprise when they went to hospital on Christmas Day.

Mrs Harris said: “We went to hospital and when we went in Bella’s room the nurses had put a Santa hat on Bella and there were so many presents in the room, and for Daniel and Amelia too.

“Then later in the afternoon, Santa turned up with so many more presents.

“It made me so tearful. It was so heart warming I struggled not to cry.”

Mrs Harris said she wants to thank everyone who donated toys and money to the appeal.

She said: “I was so shocked and couldn’t believe how generous people had been.

“ The whole day the nurses too were amazing and in the night when we had to leave Bella and I would call.

“It was constant generosity and kindness.”

Bella was allowed home on Wednesday, December 28 and is now recovering and enjoying her new presents with her brother and sister.

Mrs Harris said: “I want to say a massive thank you to the Dorset Echo Toy Appeal, I still can’t believe it.

“And to the staff at Kingfisher Ward who were so amazing. It was such a hard time and I couldn’t have done it without them.”