Fiona became a foster carer after being advised not to get pregnant because of PAH. She continued to foster during her lung transplant thanks to the support of family.
“When I was diagnosed with idiopathic PAH in 2009 I was advised not to become pregnant as it was too high risk. I wasn’t that concerned initially as I just felt lucky that I knew what was wrong with me – but once I began to improve it did become quite hard. Before diagnosis we had been trying for a family, but it had never happened for us. I found it incredibly hard when my friends were having their own families. We had always wanted children.
I work as a pupil support assistant in a local primary school and had seen a lot of children who were in the fostering system. We thought it over for a while and after making enquiries, we started the assessment process. It took about a year to be approved.
Initially we were approved as short-term carers as we were able to choose which age of children we would like to foster. We built a good relationship with the assessing social worker and we were able to think about who would fit into our home and lifestyle, bearing in mind my condition.
We have since become the permanent carers of our 12-year-old boy, who we initially had for a respite placement when he was five. We have to be reviewed and go back to a panel every three years.
I worried about getting too attached to the children we fostered and I won’t lie, it is incredibly hard when a child leaves. I also worried about what would happen as my condition deteriorated. When I went for my transplant assessment, I was open and honest with the social workers and we had a plan for what would happen.
I underwent a double lung transplant in May 2019 and spent three months in hospital. We managed to keep our foster son and he came down to the hospital over the summer to be with me. I think this relies on you having support and family that are willing to help out.
We have had lots of children stay with us for respite and have had several children who have stayed for long periods. Aside from the 12-year old we are permanent fosterers of, we don’t currently have any other children due to me focusing on my recovery from transplant.
It is an amazing thing to watch a child progress and change over the period of time you look after them. We have kept in touch with some of the children who have been with us. We still have photos of them up in our house and have so many precious memories. Fostering isn’t easy but it’s definitely a good thing to consider. It is hard but really worth it when you see the progress a child makes. I think one of the most important things is making sure that you have a good support network around you.”