3 Wishes Project brings comfort to grieving family

Kelly Kingsley, the first 3 Wishes patient. Photo shows her looking at the camera. Her hands are also visible next to her face.

Published on 2 February 2022

A grieving family have thanked hospital staff for their care and compassion after their daughter died.

Kelly Kingsley, from Dover, was the first patient to benefit from the 3 Wishes Project at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

The project aims to bring comfort to people who die in the critical care unit at the hospital, by allowing medical staff to grant ‘wishes’ at the end of someone’s life.

Mum-of-three Kelly, who was 44, was well known to staff as she battled rare metabolic disorder Acute intermittent Porphyria (AIP), and frequently needed critical care treatment when she suffered a crisis.

Kelly’s mum Kay Hammond said: “The critical care team at the William Harvey Hospital brought Kelly back to us 30 times over the past five years when at times it looked like the odds were stacked against us.

“But sadly during her last crisis there was just nothing more they could do.

“They couldn’t have done more for Kelly and we are so proud and feel honoured that she was the first person to be part of the 3 Wishes Project.

“It allowed us to make some special memories and we will forever be grateful for that.”

Kelly was diagnosed with AIP, which is a very rare, life-threatening disorder, when she was 17, and suffered from chronic pain despite medication being prescribed. Kelly also had seizures, a stroke and at one point during a crisis had locked-in syndrome, which meant she could only communicate with her eyes.

But despite everything, she remained positive and her family said she was an inspiration and touched the hearts of everyone she met.

Partner Dan Aldridge said: “Kelly was always smiling and upbeat, she never said ‘why me?’, and would tell us there was always someone somewhere worse off than her.

“The staff in the critical care unit treated Kelly like family, and tried everything they could.

“And when we knew there was nothing else they could do, they made sure Kelly was comfortable and that we were looked after too.”

Staff washed and blow-dried Kelly’s hair, and played her favourite music to her. The family brought in photos of her children and dog, including photos of her little sister Laura who passed away tragically at home from brain cancer at the age of 14, as well as Kelly’s favourite blanket, to help the room feel more like home.

Kay said: “It took away the clinical aspects of end-of-life care, and made us feel like Kelly was an individual, not just someone stuck in a hospital bed waiting to pass away.

“It felt comforting because it was so personal and all about Kelly.

“Kelly fought her illness tooth and nail with such courage and determination and I know the staff took such good care of her. I always felt reassured that Kelly was safe with the critical care team, knowing she was treated like part of their family.

“The staff were always there with a hug and it felt so personal. They would go above and beyond and they were absolutely amazing throughout Kelly’s illness.”

Kay said the deaths of her daughters were two very different experiences, but thanks to the 3 Wishes Project the family were able to create mementos such as handprints and ECG printouts for Kelly, which they did not do for Laura.

She added: “I feel so proud that Kelly and ourselves were the first to benefit from the 3 Wishes Project and I know it will make a difference to other families in the future.

“I hope it brings them the comfort that it has brought us.”

East Kent Hospitals is the first in the country to pilot the 3 Wishes Project, which is funded by East Kent Hospitals Charity.

Kay is hoping to fundraise to support it in Kelly’s memory, and plans to complete a sponsored skydive in the future.

For more information on the 3 Wishes Project and how to donate, visit https://www.ekhcharity.org.uk/critical-care/