Michael is a long-term patient at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and LOVES the cinema. His mum Mileena tells us how his visits to the CW+ MediCinema have had a huge impact on him, changing his perception of the hospital and making it feel lilke a happy place for him to go:
"Michael can’t do lots of the things that other children do. He can’t run around or play for very long and if we go to the park, he gets tired very fast. We can go on holiday, but travelling is difficult for us because of his medical problems, so he doesn’t get very excited by it. But when Michael is at the cinema, he’s at his happiest. For him, to be able to sit down and watch a film is the best thing ever. So, when we found out about MediCinema, he couldn’t wait to go. We’ve been to two screenings now and we still talk about them to this day. That’s how amazing the MediCinema was for both of us.
"Michael was born healthy but caught a virus when he was a few days old. It was a simple virus, one that might give you a temperature for a few days, but Michael was only just born, and his immune system wasn’t equipped to deal with it. At four days old, he was admitted to Chelsea & Westminster where his heart just stopped. After that, it was like the domino effect, where he faced with one thing after another – all within the first three months of his life. He has survived so many things and we are very proud of him.
"Michael is 11 now and he’s quite stable but will have medical problems his whole life. We are back and forth to hospitals all the time and we stay at Chelsea & Westminster very frequently. It helps that they know us really well at the hospital and that he has the best doctor ever – the same doctor who was there when he was born, there when his heart stopped, there for his heart transplant at three months old, and is still here today. But even so, Michael used to call hospital the ‘torture place.’
"We stayed at Chelsea & Westminster during lockdown last year. Being immuno-suppressed, Michael needs to be in his own room and can’t walk around the ward because of the other sick children. It meant that he was stuck in his room for days and days and days and was getting very depressed. But when he saw the poster for the MediCinema, he was so excited, because he is absolutely obsessed with film. He said: “Look Mummy!!’ and he was the one who asked the nurse if he could go.
"And how did he find the screening? He loved it, loved it, loved it! He was laughing and he was happy. For those two hours he could just slip into the world of the movie and stop thinking about being unwell. It helped him forget about his pain by being involved in the story. You can’t put a price on taking away a child’s pain for two hours of the day.
"It’s a happy occasion to go to the cinema and MediCinema wasn’t any different - everyone walked out afterwards looking positive and happy and Michael felt better – much better. I know something changed in him because he wasn’t thinking ‘I can’t do anything because I’m unwell and I’m stuck in my room.’ Instead, he was thinking: “I can actually do something that I love to do. I can feel safe, and I can watch a movie.” Things didn’t seem so desperate after that and he started to think more positively about his situation. It made his day much happier.
"Think about your worst day, your worst, nightmare day. Children like Michael can sometimes have their worst days in hospital. But going to the MediCinema – just that one thing – can make it their best day ever. And it’s the same for parents too. In hospital you don’t get many chances to have your best days, but MediCinema can give that to you. For Michael, it gives him a light at the end of the tunnel, a ray of sunshine and something happy to do - and that makes a huge difference."