Little Sophia Innis may end up spending her first Christmas in Wollongong Hospital, but a visit from Santa and the KidzWish fairy lifted her spirits on Wednesday.
It’s the eight-month-old Fairy Meadow girl’s fifth visit to hospital, but her mother Courtney Rooke hopes it will be her last.
"She’s been in since Monday last week due to vomiting and dehydration and I’m hoping she’s not going to still be here on Christmas day,’’ Ms Rooke said.
"She was just four weeks old the first time we brought her in and she’s been in multiple times since with the same symptoms, but we now think it might be due to a milk protein allergy."
"It’s hard to see her so sick and stuck in hospital so it was great to get the visit from Santa and the fairy and get the gift of the teddy bear – it really made her day."
KidzWish spokesman Karouna Micheal said the annual visit to hand out gifts was organised to spread some cheer among sick and injured kids.
"It’s part of our children experiences program, and is generously supported by a number of local businesses and organisations who donate toys," he said.
"Spending time in hospital on or around Christmas can be tough for children, and their families, so our aim is to provide that little bit of love and laughter."
"For us, it’s also a great way to wrap up the year."
Mr Micheal said it had been a big year for the Illawarra children’s charity – supporting over 7500 children who were sick, disadvantaged or who had a disability.
Some 4300 kids and their carers were able to enjoy the KidzWish Christmas party in November, while almost 2500 students enjoyed the Healthy Habits program.
Several hundred children received therapy services and others took advantage of the music and dance and sports programs.
And many more were able to take their minds off medical treatments thanks to the gift of tickets to shows and other events as part of the children experiences program.
"We’re honoured to be the Illawarra children’s charity – to be able to help kids locally thanks to the ongoing support of the community,’’ Mr Micheal said.
"Next year marks a real milestone for us as we celebrate 15 years."