Chesterfield mum set to take on London Marathon in support of The Sick Children's Trust

To thank us for the support her family received at our Magnolia House 'Home from Home' in Sheffield, Bekki will be lacing up her running shoes on 21 April to raise vital funds.

A mum from Chesterfield is taking on the London Marathon to raise vital funds for us after we supported her family with a ‘Home from Home’ when her new-born baby was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in need of urgent care.

Bekki Heath with her son Luca. Credit: Bekki Heath

Bekki Heath’s son Luca was born via caesarean section at Chesterfield Hospital in June 2023, where he remained for eight days before being transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. He was soon diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, a rare condition present at birth because of missing nerve cells in the muscles of the colon, affecting only one in every 5,000 new-borns. Bekki said:

“Even in the first couple of days at Chesterfield it was clear that something was very wrong. In Sheffield a scan identified a possible malrotation of the bowel, meaning it could be twisted and would need an operation. However, during surgery they discovered that rather than being twisted, Luca’s bowel was blocked and was very close to rupturing. It was a very scary time.”

When Bekki and her husband Jason arrived in Sheffield, finding a place to stay while Luca was in hospital simply hadn’t crossed their minds. With the hospital being a 40–60-minute drive from their home in Chesterfield and Bekki unable to drive while recovering from major surgery, the couple were thankful when a nurse presented a solution. Bekki said:

“She explained that there was a room for us at Magnolia House, a ‘Home from Home’ for families with a seriously ill child in hospital run by The Sick Children’s Trust. Jason was shown around by a member of their team and came back to the ward so excited about the place.

Baby Luca. Credit: Bekki Heath.

“It really was wonderful, and just minutes away from Luca’s ward. The homely room we were given at Magnolia House had three beds, which meant my three-year-old daughter Isabelle could stay and meet her new baby brother. As I hadn’t seen her in over a week, it gave us some very important family bonding time and that meant so much to us. Crucially, it gave us a safe, private space where we could process everything that was happening. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it.”

During a fifteen-night stay at Magnolia House, the family were able to stay close to baby Luca while he battled various complications as well as an infection. Luca also needed to learn how to feed, having previously received milk through a direct line into his stomach. Bekki said:

“He refused all bottles at first. He wouldn’t even put one in his mouth. Although he did take to the bottle quite quickly, it took a while for his stomach to get used to the milk, with very gradual increases in the quantities. It was all worth it as he’s got a great appetite now – he absolutely loves his milk.”

Luca with big sister Isabelle. Credit: Bekki Heath.

To everyone’s relief, Luca’s went home for the first time on 12 July, 23 days after his birth. While his journey is very much ongoing – he returns to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for twice-monthly check-ups and has two future operations scheduled – the medical staff are delighted with his progress.

To thank the charity for the support her family received in Sheffield, Bekki will be lacing up her running shoes on 21 April to take on the London Marathon and raise vital funds. Bekki said:

“It has been a lot of effort to get ready for it, but I’m really excited about it. I’m hoping to raise £2,000 for The Sick Children’s Trust, enough to pay for a family to stay for 50 nights. The fundraising is going well, and I’m so pleased to be able to give something back to them.

“It’s amazing that a place like Magnolia House exists, you never hear of a charity like this until you really need them. As someone who has been in that situation it made everything so much easier, and I cannot thank The Sick Children’s Trust and their wonderful staff enough for being there for us.”

Bekki is one of 14 runners taking on the London Marathon to fundraise for The Sick Children’s Trust and our ten ‘Homes from Home’, which support families from across the country while their children are seriously ill in hospital.

More information about Bekki’s London Marathon challenge can be found on her donation page here:

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