Scunthorpe mum takes on Great North Run for The Sick Children's Trust

Olivia Cooke’s baby son Jude suffered numerous seizures at Scunthorpe General Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for specialist care, where our ‘Home from Home’ supported the family free of charge throughout that time.

A mum from Scunthorpe will be taking on the Great North Run this Sunday to support The Sick Children’s Trust after we provided her with a ‘Home from Home’ while her new-born son was receiving treatment in Sheffield.

Olivia Cooke is aiming to complete the iconic Newcastle race, the world’s biggest half marathon, to raise vital funds after we supported her in 2021 when her baby son Jude suffered numerous seizures at Scunthorpe General Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for specialist care. Olivia said:

Baby Jude receiving treatment in Sheffield. Credit: Olivia Cooke.

“When we were re-admitted to Scunthorpe General a couple of days after he was born, Jude’s blood sugar was extremely low and later that morning he started to experience seizures. Despite being given anti-convulsive medication, his episodes didn’t stop until around 12 hours later, when he was sedated by the Embrace children’s ambulance team for his transfer to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.Seeing your new-born baby sedated in an incubator, especially when you’re not used to the hospital environment, is one of the scariest things you can imagine. It is a feeling that I would not wish on any parent.

 “Jude ended up being in Sheffield for four weeks, eventually being diagnosed with transient hyperinsulinism, meaning he was experiencing spikes in the insulin levels in his blood. The doctors would only allow him to go home once his blood sugar stayed stable through a six hour fast, which thankfully, it did. It was such a relief to get him back to home.”

 Throughout Jude’s treatment his parents could always be by his side thanks to Magnolia House, one of two of ‘Homes from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust that are located just minutes from the wards at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Olivia said:

Mum Olivia cradling baby Jude. Credit: Olivia Cooke.

 “On Jude’s first night in Sheffield Children’s Hospital we managed a grab a little bit of rest on the settees in the parents’ room, fully expecting to start looking for hotels in the morning. That was a worry for us, especially with us having no idea how long Jude would be in Sheffield.

“However, the nurses on the Neonatal Surgical Unit (NSU) told us about Magnolia House, a ‘Home from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust. It was literally next door to the NSU, and we were so relieved to be given a place to stay there. Suddenly we didn’t have to think about driving between Scunthorpe and Sheffield or paying lots of money for a hotel. It was a massive weight off our shoulders, keeping us together with Jude pretty much all the time, which was so important. We honestly don’t know what we would have done without it.

“It was so great having Magnolia House to rely on. We had our own room with en-suite bathroom, which was massively important for me as someone who had just given birth. Having used the shared parent shower on the ward after a sleeping in parents’ room, having a private one to use made a huge difference.”

Dad Tom with baby Jude during his time in hospital. Credit: Olivia Cooke.

Without The Sick Children’s Trust families often must travel long distances to be by their sick child’s bedside, sleeping in uncomfortable hospital chairs or having to pay for expensive hotels just to remain close. Olivia said:

“The Sick Children’s Trust took a huge worry away from us by providing free accommodation throughout Jude’s hospital stay, and we will never be able to thank them enough for that. To go some way towards it, Tom completed a marathon last year to and raised a huge amount of money for the charity. Now it is my turn!”

As well as alleviating financial worries, The Sick Children’s Trust – which also has ‘Homes from Home’ at major paediatric centres in Leeds, Newcastle, Cambridge and London – also directly supports the mental wellbeing of the families that stay with them. Relying entirely on voluntary donations to keep their ‘Homes from Home’ running, it costs the charity £40 to support a family for one night. Ann Wyatt, who has been manager of both Magnolia House and its sister ‘Home from Home’ Treetop House for the past 20 years, said:

“I am so pleased that we were able to be there for Olivia and Tom during such a difficult time, being so far away from their home while Jude was receiving treatment. The Great North Run is a challenge for anyone, and we are thrilled that Olivia is taking this on for us. The money that she raises will make a massive difference to the families we support, keeping them together while their children are receiving vital care in hospital.

“As a charity we rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters to keep our ‘Homes from Home’ up and running, so I want to say a huge thank you to Olivia for raising money on our behalf.”

More information about Olivia’s fundraiser can be found on her Just Giving page .

Tom and Olivia pictured with a very happy Jude, who turned two in August, on their recent wedding day. Credit: Olivia Cooke.

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