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Tim’s story

Tim’s story

Tim with parents Kristy and Ralph
Tim with parents Kristy and Ralph

Tim Harvey is only 10 years old but he’s already had more than 150 operations in his short life after being born with a defect that meant he was unable to swallow safely. 

His early years consisted of fortnightly trips to Bristol Children’s Hospital for surgeries and procedures to repair a tracheo-oesophageal fistula. Parents Kristy and Ralph racked up the miles on the M5 and continue to make regular trips with Tim to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E). 

Tim Harvey

Kristy said: “Tim has many medical complications which can make family life a struggle at times but despite all of this we are a strong family unit, along with his big brother and his partner. 

“As a result of his surgery, Tim has a ring of scar tissue in his oesophagus where food can get stuck and he also suffers with a degree of oesophageal dysmotility, which means that food can be slow moving down into his stomach. 

“Tim can also have gastro-oesophageal reflux, and being a medically-vulnerable child, he is no stranger to being poorly and picking up coughs, colds and bugs, meaning he often needs medical help from the RD&E.” 

The family, from Cranbrook in Exeter, is backing Royal Devon Hospitals Charity’s appeal to help create an Emergency Department (ED) area at the RD&E, especially for children. 

The charity is hoping to raise £250,000 to buy colourful wall art, ceiling panels and bespoke comfortable seating, as well as child-friendly interactive equipment and USB charging points. 

Tim's England Shirt Auction

Tim has got his hands on a signed 2024 England Six Nations rugby shirt and has put it up for auction in support of our Children’s Emergency Department Appeal.

The brand-new (tagged) shirt has been signed by 23 of the 2024 Six Nations squad. Bidding closes at 8pm on June 8. Place a bid here

It will mean children and young people will no longer have to sit alongside adults in an often-cramped waiting room at what can be a scary and upsetting time for families.  

Kristy said having a child-friendly waiting area in the ED would ‘make a world of difference’.  

“Hospitals can be a scary place as an adult, let alone a child,” she said.

“At the moment, children have to sit in a sectioned area of the adult ED which is very clinical, and there is nothing bright and visual, and no stimulation to ease the wait times.  “We have taken Tim’s iPad or Switch with us before but there are very few sockets for charging, which when you can be there for hours, are very much needed – for the parents’ sanity too!  

An artist impression of the new children's ED area
An artist impression of the new children’s ED area

“When distressed children fuss and cry, it often gets unwanted attention from other patients waiting. Having a dedicated children’s area would mean you are with other parents who are sympathetic to your predicament, and it would help ease the stress of being a parent to a poorly child. 

“We visited Bristol Children’s Hospital this week and it very different! Bright, spacious and lots of visual stimulation. Colouring stations, fish bubble tubes, a TV with Christmas movies and toys – and all this was just in the X-ray department!    

“We don’t know what the future holds for Tim but with a new paediatric ED on the horizon, we will be confident that future visits will be a more pleasant experience all round for him as well as us!” 

Exeter Chiefs fan Tim, says he hopes people will back the Children’s ED appeal and help create a calm and welcoming space at the hospital for young patients needing urgent medical care. 

“Sometimes when I come to hospital I have to wait quite a long time so it will be great to be able to keep my iPad charged up,” he said. 

“Also, I have quite a loud cough so it will be better to be in an area especially for children so I’m not stared at by adults while I’m poorly.” 

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