A mother has recounted how she lay with her three-year-old daughter’s body in bed for 11 days after she suddenly died of brain aneurysm on Christmas Day.
Three-year-old Georgia Fieldsend was on a last-minute getaway with her parents, Ilse and James, from Surrey in the UK, and then two-year-old brother, Joshua, on a beach in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt on Christmas Day in 2013.
Georgia convinced her mother to be allowed one last paddle before they went back to their hotel to open more presents, when she suddenly collapsed at the shoreline. She was rushed to the local hospital in a taxi, as her parents tried desperately to perform mouth-to-mouth.
When they arrived at the hospital, Ilse said that the staff did not immediately give Georgia an oxygen and at one stage, a doctor even told her: “She’s fine. She’s sleeping.” Around 20 minutes later, a consultant intervened and Georgia was taken into intensive care.
The next day, Georgia was airlifted to the children’s critical care unit at King’s College Hospital in London.
Two days after Christmas, Georgia was pronounced dead after suffering from a rare aneurysm, causing bleeding into her brain when it burst.
Her parents donated Georgia’s organs, which helped save six lives, before they decided to take Georgia’s body from the mortuary to their home in a portable hospital bed after signing a transfer of care form.
There, the couple put Georgia in her favourite dress and dancing shoes, and laid down her body in her bedroom which was kept to a freezing temperature to preserve her body. Funeral directors reportedly told the family if they kept Georgia’s bedroom door shut and window open, she would be in fine conditions.
For 11 days, Ilse and Joshua read bedtime stories to Georgia and talked about her life, and Joshua would have morning cuddles with her.
Ilse said that there was no odour in the room, and she and her husband washed Georgia’s hair and put lotion on her hands as her fingertips and face became dry.
Ilse describes how she lay alone with Georgia at night before bringing her body into her own bed the night before the funeral so she could lay in between her and James.
On the morning of Georgia’s funeral, Ilse said she took off her and Georgia’s clothes to cradle her naked body: “I wanted to feel her skin on mine one more time. I stroked Georgia’s forehead and told her how much I loved her,” Ilse told Antonia Hoyle of The Telegraph.
Ilse said she knows her revelations will come as a shock to many but she said that it was part of their family’s grieving process.
“I know some will think what we did was shocking, but to us it made sense. Our daughter’s body belonged with us, not in a morgue. Having her at home helped us grieve,” she said.
Ilse said being able to bring her daughter’s body home was ‘a beautiful thing to be able to do’.
Now, in memory of Georgia, Ilse has asked parents to do seven things with their child and to donate £7 ($12.33) to the King’s College Hospital Charity on JustGiving “” to mark what would have been her seventh birthday.