A fundraising appeal started by a mum during the pandemic as a way of thanking medical staff who helped save her son’s life not once but twice, has raised more than £19,100 for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Caroline May took the emergency number 999 and flipped it on its head to create the Reverse 999 Appeal which urges people to donate £9.99 to the hospital’s ICU via the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust Charitable Fund.

Within five days of the fundraiser launching on 9 April 2020, £15,000 of the £30,000 target had been raised thanks to friends and family not only donating but also sharing the appeal via their social media accounts so that it soon became a community campaign with over 500 local people making donations!

The married mum of three, who lives in Langton Green, near Tunbridge Wells, said: “My two year old son Arthur has a heart condition called myocarditis and a suspected immunodeficiency condition.

“Tunbridge Wells Hospital saved his life in May 2018 when he was struck by a viral infection of the heart and again in December 2019 when he had sepsis.

“We take it for granted that we can call 999 when we want urgent medical help, so I started the Reverse 999 Appeal so people can type those numbers in a different way and help support our local hospital. As well as it being a chance for me to give back and say ‘thank you’ to Tunbridge Wells Hospital for saving Arthur’s life I also wanted to do something to help others during the pandemic.”

So far the funds have helped pay for six Aerogens – a device which delivers drugs straight into a patient’s lungs via a ventilator; a high spec rehabilitation chair, plus six dementia clocks which can be used by patients suffering from delirium.

Caroline added: “I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has donated to the appeal so far, now I’m asking local schools and business as well as individuals to help me reach the £30,000 target.

“Simply visit the JustGiving page, hit the donate button, type in £9.99, leave a message of support and appreciation for the ICU team at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, then share the JustGiving link with friends, family, businesses and contacts and help me get the word out there.”

Jane Sansom, Matron for ICU at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, said: “The amount of money Caroline has managed to raise for ICU at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in such a short space of time is incredible.

“Importantly that money is already making a real difference to the care we provide patients with.

“The new rehabilitation chair means we now have three of them on ICU allowing us to get more patients out of their beds and in to an upright position. The dementia clocks are really helpful for patients, who may be disorientated due to their condition, to understand what time of day it is, and the Aerogens allow staff to get drugs directly into a patient’s lungs to help them breathe so the impact these items are having on our patients is huge.

“We wish Caroline the very best of luck with reaching the £30,000 target.”

To make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tunbridgewellsicu

Anyone interested in fundraising for MTW NHS Trust’s dedicated charity should contact Laura Kennedy, Fundraising Manager via laura.kennedy8@nhs.net