An arty 11-year-old girl has beaten her £100 fundraising target ‘ten-fold’ after creating and selling origami bookmarks to her friends and family and raising more than £1,300 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where she underwent open-heart surgery at just five-weeks-old.
Mischa Bansal, from Nottingham, always knew she’d had an operation as a baby, but it wasn’t until she began learning about the heart in school, that she truly realised how much of a big deal her surgery was. Enthused by her teacher, Mischa asked her parents to tell her all about her own journey, so mum, Kaj, and dad, Jin, sat her down and started from the beginning.
When Mischa was just a few weeks old, her parents noticed that her breathing was a little irregular, so Kaj took her to their GP. On suspecting that Mischa may have a heart murmur, she was referred to their local hospital for further tests, but as more and more consultants entered the room, including a specialist cardiologist from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Kaj knew it was something more serious.
Mischa had been diagnosed with a combination of congenital heart defects so rare, that the doctors had only seen two other cases like it. Mischa had a hole in her little heart and her pulmonary artery hadn’t developed as it should, which also caused a leaky valve. Before Kaj and Jin even had time to process Mischa’s diagnosis, their little girl was transferred over an hour away to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where just a week later, she received life-saving open heart surgery.
Kaj and Jin did all they could to keep themselves occupied during the seven-hour operation but there was no greater relief than the moment they received the call that let them know Mischa was out of theatre and doing well. Just one week later, Mischa was well enough to return home and has been fighting fit ever since.
After Kaj and Jin had finished telling the story, Mischa was awestruck. She couldn’t believe she had such an incredible story to tell and it was that moment that inspired her to start raising money as a thank you. Having tried her hand at origami before, Mischa dug out her colourful paper and perfected the pattern for a page corner bookmark. All of Mischa’s friends and family got behind her, placing their orders and helping her to smash her modest target again and again.
Mischa’s mum, Kaj, said: “Every year we take Mischa to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for outpatient check-ups, but it was only after learning more about the heart in school that the penny dropped and she realised how much she’d been through as a baby.
“Mischa had her operation at the beginning of February, so it’s pretty much been 11 years to the day, but we’ve never forgotten the care and support we all received from staff while Mischa was in Intensive Care. It was just second to none, and we’re so glad she really wanted to celebrate that.”
Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “It can often be hard to comprehend just what our young patients go through, so we loved hearing about Mischa’s penny-drop moment and how it sparked such a passion to fundraise for us. Her gorgeous, skilfully-made bookmarks have raised an incredible amount that will go towards helping us do more for other sick kids with poorly hearts.”