7-year-old girl from Biggleswade left severely sight impaired by rare condition is raising money for hospital arts and crafts

Caring Rita wants other children in hospital to have more things to do during their stay

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 7th July 2022, 12:16 pm

A Biggleswade girl who was left severely sight impaired by a rare antibody attack is raising money to help children in hospital.

Rita Nobbs, seven, is holding a raffle in aid of the Play Team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which provides activities for youngsters on its wards.

Rita herself benefitted from the arts and crafts, so when she heard that its funding had suffered due to the pandemic, she was determined to help.

Rita enjoying arts and crafts at Addenbrooke's, and right, on holiday. Photo: The Nobbs family.

Rita told the Chronicle: "In hospital I enjoyed playing with stickers, mosaics, wooden animals, colouring sheets, pens, board games and painting.

"They don't have enough arts and crafts, but some children stay for a very long time.

"I'm raising money for the Play Team. They are really nice and I’d like the other boys and girls to have more things to do."

Rita has received treatment at Addenbrooke's Hospital since she suffered a rare antibody attack in December 2020.

Adventure: Rita doesn't let her impaired vision stop her from having fun! Photo: The Nobbs family.

The damage resulted in Optic Neuritis, meaning the nerves linking Rita's eye to her brain aren't working properly.

Her father, Michael Nobbs, 43, said: "She was over at her nan's house on Boxing Day, when she turned to my in-laws and said 'I can't see'.

"It's been a very difficult time for Rita, and for us as well."

Brave Rita has missed time at St Andrews Lower School (West) due to hospital appointments but takes everything in her stride.

Between December 2020 and April 2021, Rita received five days of treatment from Monday to Friday every four weeks, having a drip with medication to suppress the 'bad' antibodies, known as MOG antibodies.

She said: "There are lots of drips and cannulas. They help my eyesight but they’re not very nice. They are better out than in."

Antibodies are proteins that bind to the body's 'foreign invaders', such as viruses, as the immune system fights them off.

However, the MOG antibodies have done the opposite, attacking Rita's body instead of helping it.

"They can also attack the brain or spinal chord," explained Michael.

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In April, brave Rita suffered another attack and was hospitalised for two weeks.

Her mother, Sarah Nobbs, 36, said: "She had to have a needle inserted into her neckline and was hooked up to a machine to take out plasma - bad antibodies - and put good plasma back in.

"She has done really well; children adapt, don't they? She doesn't let it stop her or define her."

Indeed, Rita enjoys hobbies including swimming, ballet, disco dancing, and of course, art!

After the initial attack, she regained some vision in her right eye, although she has trouble with depth perception, so at school she sits at the front, has a magnifier, receives larger handouts, and yellow paper to help her read.

Michael added: "Rita has been very resilient. We are very proud of her as she wants to carry on raising money for other children, as she appreciates what the Play Team have done."

Please donate online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraising-for-addenbrooks-play-team and then email Michael via [email protected] to enter the raffle. The draw is on July 15.

Prizes include: Red Kite craft goodies; a beauty set from The Vintage Hair and Beauty Salon; wine; chocolate; and vouchers for Jordans Mill, Bobby's Unisex Salon, Wyboston Lakes golf, Surfin Cafe, Beauty Cabin, Pera Kitchen, Sheff’s, Krafty Shed, and The Green Man.