1. ITV Report

Children's medical research charity celebrates 60th anniversary

Medical staff helping to treat an ill child at Birmingham Children's Hospital Photo: ITV Central

A children's medical research charity which helps reduce the suffering of sick babies and children is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Action Medical Research has supported more than fifty diet and nutrition projects- helping children to fight life-threatening diseases.

Katie Haywood was born with severe liver disease. It stopped her from growing and meant her early life was made up predominantly of hospital visits.

Her body rejected her mother's milk and doctors had to use special milk to keep her going.

Katie Haywood as a baby suffering with liver disease Credit: ITV Central

It was a difficult time for the family, but a new study - funded by the charity Action Medical Research - helped them through it.

Doctors at Birmingham Children's Hospital explored new ways to help babies survive liver disease by changing their diet. The treatment saved Katie's life.

Dr Susan Protheroe, who works at Birmingham Children's Hospital said: "Liver disease used to have quite a poor prognosis for young, vulnerable babies, which was particularly tragic because if you could get the treatment in early, the children would survive longer.

"I think it's helped us understand what processes have gone wrong when babies are born with liver disease. And it's helped us think about treating them and giving them supportive treatment so they can thrive and grow."

"Liver disease used to have quite a poor prognosis for young, vulnerable babies, which was particularly tragic because if you could get the treatment in early, the children would survive longer."

– Dr Susan Protheroe, Birmingham Children's Hospital
Katie (centre) now aged 20 with her parents. Credit: ITV Central

Katie is now a healthy and active 20-year-old student.

Two years ago, doctors gave her the all clear.

She is studying Social Work at University and says it's thanks to medical research and staff that she survived.

"I value life more now. I want to make the most out of it and give back to those that helped"

– Katie Haywood, helped by Action Medical Research

The work of medical research for children continues as the profession faces new challenges.