A little girl with one of the world’s rarest medical complaints was giving a boost by disability vehicle specialist Adapted Vehicle Hire (AVH) when her family hit severe mobility problems.
Four-year-old Mary Allen, of Nantwich, Cheshire, was born with macrocephaly-capillary malformation syndrome (MCAP) – a condition that affects only 300 people globally and leads to severe physical and learning problems. She also suffers from hydrocephalus and epilepsy, which cause life threatening seizures, and has spent her life in and out of hospitals, including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and Leighton Hospital in Crewe.
As well as caring for Mary's twin sisters, Pearl and Violet, three, it is vital for mum Donna Edge to be able to get her young family to Mary’s many medical appointments safely. However, when her Toyota broke down, she was left unable to drive to Mary’s hospital visits.
Donna, who is now Mary’s full-time carer and a former NHS midwife, said, “The journey to Alder Hey takes hours and involves two buses to get to our nearest railway station, then another bus ride at the other end. Navigating the journey with Mary’s special buggy and two toddlers in tow was a nightmare and very bad for Mary during the flu season. Winter bugs are especially dangerous for Mary and her weaker immune system has already led to several bouts of pneumonia.”
As their mobility problem continued and with no respite in Mary’s busy schedule of medical appointments, Donna was desperate and contacted 14 vehicle hire companies to see if they could help. AVH, which is the UK’s largest provider of specialist rental vehicles for disabled motorists, emailed back within two hours and just days later, a new seven seater Volkswagen Sharan was delivered to the family’s drive.
Donna added, “AVH’s incredible generosity aside, I was hugely impressed by its efficiency. The entire process was smooth and our vehicle is perfect for Mary’s needs and those of a big family with sliding doors, fantastic safety features and vast luggage space. It's practical, comfortable, and easy to drive.
“It’s been a godsend. Mary stayed in Alder Hey over Christmas 2015 and 2016 for major brain surgery, so having her home in 2017 was incredible for the whole family. The lovely car helped us get the most out of the holidays and we created priceless memories including her birthday outing, just after New Year, when the family visited Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port.”
This event was more than just a family celebration as the sights and sounds of the aquarium provided vital visual and sensory stimulation to help boost Mary’s development.
AVH's managing director John Ellis commented, “Having the right vehicle in the right place when you need it is invaluable and we were delighted to be able to help Donna in her time of need.
“Providing wheelchair accessible and adapted vehicles for hire, we cater for all types of disability to help support the mobility needs of our clients. We do so by offering an individual telephone consultation with a member of the team prior to allocating a specific vehicle, meaning every customer can be confident their unique requirements are met.”
AVH has a wide range of adapted mobility vehicles ranging in size from Nissan Micras to 4x4s and people carriers. The company carries out its adaptations in-house, operating a purpose built workshop at its head office in West Drayton, London.