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Lost toy monkey reunited with six year old owner after lending it to his mum for luck during lifesaving op


A little boy has been reunited with his favourite monkey toy after it was lost during his mum’s lifesaving operation to remove a deadly tumour.

Kelly and Rhys reunited with his favourite monkey toy

Kelly and Rhys reunited with his favourite monkey toy


Kelly Richards, 35, from Gorseinon, Swansea, was devastated after she lost her six-year-old son, Rhys’, favourite cuddly toy during an operation to remove a cancerous mass.

The little boy had ‘Monkey’ since he was ten days old, after his mum let him keep the toy bought for her as a Valentine’s gift – but kind-hearted Rhys gave the toy to his mum to take into hospital with her when she had a major operation.

Rhys and Monkey had been inseparable with the toy travelling with Rhys and his mum to Euro-Disney four times, Lego Land and even on camping holidays.

Rhys gave his prized toy to ‘look after his mummy’ during a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer four months ago.

Monkey went down for the lifesaving surgery with Kelly two weeks ago, but when she was discharged from hospital she realised Monkey had vanished.

The desperate mum put out a plea on Facebook to find the lost toy and four days later after being shared more than 700 times hospital staff found the toy that had been wrapped in bedsheets – and put through the wash.

Kelly said: “A few months ago I was told I had ovarian cancer that was caused by the BRCA1 gene it was absolutely terrifying, but I knew I had to beat it for Rhys.

Rhys took his monkey everywhere

Rhys took his monkey everywhere


“I couldn’t tell him about being diagnosed with cancer before my hysterectomy, Rhys is only six and wouldn’t understand so I told him I had to go for an operation to get better again.

“The night before I went into hospital for my hysterectomy Rhys ran to his room and gave me Monkey so that he could look after me because Rhys couldn’t be there with me.

“It was so sweet I had to fight back the tears because I know much Monkey means to Rhys.

“When I went down for surgery I had Monkey right beside me on the hospital bed, I was so terrified but having Rhys’ favourite toy there reminded that I was having the operation to be with him.

“When I realised Monkey wasn’t with me when I got home after my operation I was really worried, I knew it would break my little boy’s heart.

“After Rhys was born my mum bought Monkey as a Valentine’s Day present from him but shortly after he got hold of the toy and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

“He’s had him since he was ten days old and he’s been everywhere we’ve visited from Euro-Disney to camping trips, Monkey is better travelled than most people.

Kelly in hospital with her partner, Dai

Kelly in hospital with her partner, Dai


“I had a sleepless night after putting out the appeal on Facebook, just hoping that someone may have found him, I had no idea how I’d break it to Rhys if he was gone.

“Out of the blue I had a sweet message from a lady who had the same toy and said she would give me hers if it couldn’t be found which really touched me.

“But thankfully four days later I received a message from the hospital saying they had some good news, I was so ecstatic I would have jumped if I could have.

“They told me he had got wrapped up in the hospital bed linen and gone through the wash but that they wanted to invite Rhys in so he could see where Monkey had been on his travels.

“I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have him back, Rhys would have been devastated if he didn’t get the Monkey back.”

Seven months ago Kelly first noticed her stomach had swollen to the size where it looked like she was three months pregnant.

After going for tests a CT scan revealed her bulged belly was caused by a 15cm cyst – the size of a baby – that had entwined itself around her right ovary and fallopian tube.

Kelly said: “It was really weird, my stomach had been very sore and I was having pains in my lower back, at first I thought I was pregnant.

Rhys and his best friend Tobie left, and his favourite monkey

Rhys and his best friend Tobie left, and his favourite monkey


“But blood tests revealed I had high protein levels and then during my scans doctors gasped when they saw the very large 15cm cyst around my ovaries.

“Days later I had to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to remove the cyst after I suffered from sickness and feared the cyst could explode at any moment.”

A month after removing the obscene mass, doctors informed Kelly that she had ovarian cancer and that it was caused by the deadly BRCA1 gene.

To save her life they needed to give her a hysterectomy in the hope of stopping the cancerous cells from spreading to her other organs.

Kelly said: “As soon as I found out I had cancer I was terrified and texted all my female cousins to go to the hospital to have checks.

“We do have a history of the BRCA1 gene in my family and it had killed my grandmother but it had skipped my mum’s generation – so I thought we were safe.”

Now Kelly recovering from her lifesaving operation two weeks ago the mum she is awaiting test results but doctors believe the cancer has not spread any further.

Deputy Head of Support Services Rob Daniel said: “Laundry staff often find patients’ personal belongings and always try to ensure they get back to their rightful owners.

“Thanks to their hard work and dedication and their willingness to go that extra mile we have one happy little boy. Well done to everyone involved.”


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