BRAVE Sammi Goodwin has battled back from the brink of death to become an award winner.
The 12-year-old lifted the Carer of the Year title at last night’s Best of Health awards and it was just reward for a truly remarkable young girl.
Sammi contracted pneumonia, swine flu, a lung infection and was found to have a cyst on a heart – just days after helping to clear the snow, from the paths where she lived, in minus 22 temperatures three years ago.
She was rushed into Freeman Hospital in Newcastle under flashing blue lights. Doctors saved her life in a two-hour operation yet as soon as she came round, she asked her family what she could do to help her mum and dad who she is a carer for.
Mum Claire Goodwin, 32, suffers from fibromyalgia which causes chronic widespread pain.
She said: “All she wanted to know was how her dad was, how I was, and where her brothers and sisters were.
“I had to tell her to stop worrying because she would get better quicker that way.”
Sammi is a pupil at Manor College of Technology. Her typical day starts when she gets up and makes breakfast for mum Claire; dad Chris, 41, (who has ankylosing spondylitis which is a type of chronic arthritis); older sister Abigail, 14; and younger siblings Benni, aged ten, Malachi, aged nine, and seven-year-old Heidi.
She irons, helps mum to get dressed, makes cups of coffee and gets herself ready for school. And she does all that even though she has the chronic fatigue syndrome Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) herself.
Claire said: “I am really proud of her. If anyone has to run out for food, it is Sammi who is there to support me. She is always there.”
The family lives in Seaton Carew but Sammi’s caring nature extends back to the days when they lived in Crathorne in North Yorkshire. During the winter of 2011, she was helping clear the village paths in minus 22 temperatures when she came down with pneumonia.
Her condition worsened and she was rushed to Tyneside. Investigations showed an infection of her lung cavity wall.
Claire added: “The doctor at the Freeman was amazing. The infection had started to get into her blood stream and the hospital prepared for her to go into surgery.
“While they were operating on her, they found a cyst on her heart. They saved her life.
“When she came round, she was asking if I was okay and was her dad okay. That’s typical of her. I told her ‘stop worrying and you will get home quicker’.”
Sammi’s own condition means she often can’t sleep through the night because of the pain. But she is still there for her family.
Yet Sammi’s story was just one on an astonishing night of emotion, drama and heroism at the Best of Health awards.
There were inspiring stories all night.
There was Lisa Doughty who, for more than 30 years, has raised awareness of diabetes and helped thousands of people to get the correct treatment. She took home the long term achievement award.
Behind-the-scenes hero Sue Lennard was crowned Nurse of the Year for helping childless couples to become parents.
GP of the Year was Dr Abbas Awad of the Millennium Surgery while the GP Practice of the Year title went to Doctors Koh and Trory.
Midwife of the Year was Sharon Gowans while Andi White was optician/optometrist of the year.
Pharmacist of the Year was Ian Bullous and receptionist of the year was Donna Dakers.
The team of the year title was awarded amid huge applause to Hartlepool & District Hospice while the special recognition honour went to a team which has now lifted a trophy for five years in succession – the Chemotherapy/Haematology Day Unit.
l Our reporting and photography team was there to cover all of last night’s action and our coverage of the Best of Health awards will continue next week with a supplement, containing interviews and reaction from all our winners.
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