Heartless thieves stole medical kit vital to a three-year-old girl’s survival when they broke into her home while the family were in hospital – caring for her little sister.
Emily Anderson has cerebral palsy and is unable to eat or drink, leaving her reliant on a pump to deliver food to her stomach 24/7.
But her life has been “put at risk” after thieves broke into her bedroom and stole her back-up pump – vital if her main one fails.
The house was empty because parents Paula Ratcliffe and John Anderson were at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital with their newborn daughter, Mia.
Seven-week-old Mia requires around the clock care due to a life-threatening bowel disease.
The burglars also took £2,500 worth of technician Paula’s nail equipment, roofer John’s work tools, car keys, jewellery and even money from the Emily’s money box.
Speaking from Mia’s bedside, the devastated family from Doncaster is pleading for the return of Emily’s life-saving kit.
Distraught Paula said Emily’s one and only pump has a 12-hour battery life and the family are constantly “living on edge” in fear of it breaking down.
She 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.
“If the person who did it has a heart then they’d return it. It doesn’t have any use to anyone else.
“We are living on edge and have enough to be dealing with.”
The family have been juggling caring for Emily, two older children, Katie Anderson, 15 and Charlotte Gethin, 11, and being in hospital with Mia, since she was born in August.
They’ve been living at accommodation at Magnolia House, close by to the hospital in Sheffield, which has been financed by the Sick Children’s Trust.
The family home was broken into between Tuesday evening (September 10) and Thursday afternoon (September 12).
Paula found out when she nipped home from Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital to pick up some supplies on Thursday.
She discovered someone had smashed their way through a side window and raided every cupboard and drawer, searching for valuables.
Paula said the house had been turned upside down and there was rubbish strewn across the hallway.
“I’m absolutely heartbroken,” said Paula, a nail technician.
“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.
“John was still at the hospital so I phoned him and I was obviously crying my eyes out.
“We are both heartbroken and our children and devastated that someone has been into our home.
“The financial loss is incredible because we are not in a position to replace anything.”
John has had to stop working temporarily while the family juggle being at Mia’s bedside and looking after their three other children.
Mia is due to have surgery later this month as part of ongoing treatment for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition where a portion of the bowel dies.
Emily relies on a pump and feeding tubes directly wired into her stomach to deliver her entire daily nutrition.
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, who is leading a campaign to raise £5,000 to help the family pay for replacements for what was stolen.
To view the fundraising page visit www.gofundme.com and search for “Help John and Paula get back on their feet”.
South Yorkshire Police said: “Sometime between 1.30pm on Tuesday 10 September and 2.30pm on Thursday 12 September, it was reported that a property on Winchester Avenue in Doncaster was broken into.
“It’s believed that an unknown offender entered the property through a patio door at the back of the house.
“Various items were stolen from the property including items of jewellery and cash.
Officers investigating the burglary have carried out house-to-house enquiries and checked CCTV in the area.
“Anyone who saw any suspicious activity during the times stated or has any information is urged to call 101 quoting incident number 530 of 12 September 2019 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
To help the family visit: www.gofundme.com/f/help-john-and-paula-get-back-on-their-feet