A family are at ‘rock bottom’ after thieves ransacked their home and stole a life-saving medical pump used to keep their disabled three-year-old alive.
Toddler Emily Anderson has cerebral palsy and cannot eat or drink, relying on the pump to get food into her stomach.
Her parents say that without the back-up pump her life is now ‘at risk’ and they are pleading for its return.
Paula Ratcliffe and John Anderson were at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital at the time of the break-in, caring for their baby daughter Mia, who is just seven weeks old and has a rare life-threatening condition herself.
Speaking from Mia’s bedside, Paula said: ‘I’m just disgusted. Whoever did this is the lowest of the low and I just can’t believe someone would do this to us.
She said the family, from Doncaster, Yorkshire, are now ‘living on the edge’ as the pump they do have only has a 12-hour battery life which means they are terrified of it breaking down.
Paula said: ‘If the person who did it has a heart then they’d return it. It doesn’t have any use to anyone else.’
The Sick Children’s Trust has funded the family’s stay at accommodation near to the hospital since Mia was born in August while they juggle caring for Emily and their two older children, Katie, 15 and Charlotte, 11, while being in hospital with their new baby.
Burglars raided their home some time between Tuesday and Thursday last week, when they returned to the family home to collect supplies and found the side window smashed and every cupboard emptied.
Burglars also took £2,500 worth of technician Paula’s nail equipment, roofer John’s work tools, car keys, jewellery and even cash from Emily’s money box.
Paula said: ‘I’m absolutely heartbroken. We are going through enough as a family. To steal medical kit from a room that is clearly a disabled child’s room is absolutely disgusting.
‘They will have known that person is very ill and surely they could see they could be putting someone’s life at risk.
‘We have hit rock bottom now and I couldn’t imagine things getting any worse for us as a family.
‘I can’t believe someone is putting us through this and is trying to make a gain out of a child’s medical equipment.
‘We are constantly on edge with Emily now. What if something happens to her pump now? What if it fails?
‘Her life has been put at risk and it’s so unnecessary.’
She added: ‘They left the place in an absolute state.
‘They had really taken their time to search the house from top to bottom. Pretty much every cupboard had been searched.
‘They even took chocolate and crisps from the kitchen.’
Paula broke down in tears when she told the news to husband John, who has had to stop taking work while they juggle hospital trips and looking after their children.
Little Mia is due to have surgery later this month as part of ongoing treatment for the bowel condition necrotising enterocolitis.
Paula has contacted the NHS to get a replacement pump but said she faces a long wait.
A GoFundMe page has been launched by a family friend, Kate Gibson,to raise £5,000 for replacements.