The Countess of Wessex was a surprise visitor to one teenager about to undergo an operation in Leeds.
Sophie was at Leeds Children’s Hospital to officially open the new Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
Before meeting some of the sickest youngsters in the hospital, she surprised Nikita Chidwick.
The 15-year-old from Halton, Leeds, was in the high-dependency ward being prepared to undergo surgery for the spinal condition scoliosis.
Her mum Maria said: “The Countess was lovely and we had no idea about her visit until we were brought up here. It’s taken Nikita’s mind off being hungry from fasting.”
The Countess first visited the hospital last March when she officially opened the facility, at Leeds General Infirmary.
She was such a hit that she was asked to become patron and this time unveiled a plaque at the new PICU, one of the biggest of its kind in the country.
On the £1.75m, 20-bedded ward, she met staff and spoke to families of babies and children being cared for.
Sophie also met excited former patients Isabella Cook and Ellie Greenwood.
Isabella, 15, presented the Countess with a posy and spoke to her about her treatment for a heart defect, which included surgery in February after which she was in hospital until May.
Liver transplant patient Ellie, eight, also told Sophie about her regular visits to the hospital.
After unveiling the plaque, the Countess said it had been a “great privilege” to return.
She told Dr Tim Haywood, clinical lead for paediatric intensive care at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust: “The care you are giving is absolutely fantastic.”
He said afterwards: “We are very proud of our new unit and were delighted to welcome the Countess to see it for herself.”