A CHRISTMAS dream has come true for five-year-old Erin Meighan who flew to Lapland with her family to meet Santa Claus in person.
Erin, from Rossie, has Brittle asthma and travelled to the Arctic Circle last week with the Make A Wish Foundation for the trip of a lifetime thanks to nursing staff at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Her condition, which was diagnosed three days after she was born, is the most severe type of asthma and Erin suffers from recurrent attacks which can be life-threatening and frequently lead to periods in intensive care. She receives daily medication in tablet and nebuliser form and has steroid injections every four to six weeks to counter the illness which affects only around five per cent of asthma sufferers
Erin’s mum, Kelly, said the condition presents a “constant battle” to keep Erin breathing and she is constantly monitored by Ninewells staff who telephone her parents every day to check on her condition.
Kelly said: “She gets the best of care and is well monitored. Erin was meant to start Primary 1 this year but in the first half of the term she only managed four and a half days. It has been a bad year for her but she’s doing better now and is responding well to the steroids.
“The side effects of the drugs can be detrimental in the long run and that they’re also constantly under review.”
Despite the limitations Erin’s condition puts on her, dad Billy said she never complains about any aspect of her illness or treatment.
He said: “We’ve never heard her complain once and she doesn’t even cry when she gets her injections. She just hasn’t known anything different.”
The magical day-trip to Lapland, which included rides on reindeer-drawn sleighs, dog sleds and snowmobiles, was arranged after nurses at Ninewells referred Erin to the foundation. The charity grants wishes to children dealing with life-threatening conditions, and Erin flew from Prestwick Airport on Monday with her mum and day and seven-year-old sister Ellie.
Despite temperatures plummeting as low as -17 degrees, Erin still had the time of her life.
Kelly said: “Erin received her injection and was checked over on Friday to make sure she was well enough to make the trip, and we didn’t tell her until the last minute. It was a complete surprise and she was so excited. We stayed over at a hotel at Prestwick and got up at 2am to fly out at 5am. There were about 70 in the group and the kids were buzzing.
“We flew in to Rovaniemi and after a five-minute bus trip reached the area where there were husky and reindeer rides and the children toasted marshmallows and had hot chocolate. Erin really enjoyed it and as there was no walking was able to do everything.
“The highlight was meeting Santa and we were taken to a hotel where we had dinner before he and his reindeer arrive to meet the children and hand out presents to everyone. After that we went to Santa Claus village to see his house and workshop.
“It was great - it was just a day when there was no hospital, no injections and no reminders of her illness. We could just forget everything else. Erin spent most of last Christmas in hospital so this is such a special memory.”
Returning to Scotland at 10pm, the day was a long one but beneficial to all of the family.
Billy said: “It was nice for her to meet other children who spend time in hospital and for her sister to meet other children who have brothers and sisters in hospital. Everyone has a degree of empathy and understands.
“We want to thank the Make A Wish Foundation who put a lot of effort into making sure everything was perfect as well as the staff at Ninewells who referred Erin and continue to support and help her. Without them Erin probably wouldn’t be here.”
Further information about asthma can be found online at www.asthma.org.uk while details about the Make A Wish Foundation are available at www.make-a-wish.org.uk.