Mark sets marathon fund-raising target

AN IPSWICH teacher has pledged to repay the hospital that saved his daughter's life by running the London Marathon.Ellen Emmanuel, now 22 months old, spent two weeks in London's Evelina Children's Hospital, where she underwent open heart surgery last year.

AN IPSWICH teacher has pledged to repay the hospital that saved his daughter's life by running the London Marathon.

Ellen Emmanuel, now 22 months old, spent two weeks in London's Evelina Children's Hospital, where she underwent open heart surgery last year.

Now, dad Mark has promised to put something back by taking on the gruelling 26 mile challenge.

Mr Emmanuel, 38, of Castle Hill, has already collected nearly £2000 but still has a way to go before he reaches his £3000 target.

His daughter was taken to Evelina, part of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, with Fallot's Tetralogy, a congenital heart defect.

Ellen, the Emmanuels' only child, was only nine months old when the defect was discovered, having originally been taken to the doctor with a suspected chest infection.

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Mr Emmanuel said: “Surgeons had to change valves going from one chamber in Ellen's heart to another. Everything was done very quickly and although Ellen was supposed to be in intensive care for three days after the surgery, she was well enough to go on to a normal ward.”

Mr Emmanuel, a teacher at Westbourne High school, had applied to the marathon ballot for several years but was finally selected to take part in this year's run.

He has already run 24 miles to prepare but it will be his last long distance run before taking on the marathon, where he hopes to clock up a time of less than four hours.

Wife Charlotte, 29, a teacher at Deben High in Felixstowe, has seen her husband suffer all the aches and pains during his training.

She said: “He was a bit grumpy after his 24 mile run but I left him in bed to sleep it off. He has been very focused and is determined to get round in his intended time and get to his fundraising target.”

The Emmanuel's received enormous help from their parents and friends and also from their respective schools as they made return trips to hospital with Ellen.

Mr Emmanuel's running partner and colleague at Westbourne, Nathan Hall, helped provide the necessary motivation to take on the challenge.

The couple also got support from the parents of other children with Fallot's and of course the staff at Evelina.

Mrs Emmanuel said: “When we were researching the condition on the internet, it didn't seem to be particularly common but then we arrived at the hospital and met all the other children with similar problems. You always think your child is the only one affected by it.

We were devastated when we found out and we were told to keep an open mind about the surgery but you just don't know what to expect.

We want to thank all the staff who were amazing. The hospital very much depends on fund raising and we're hoping we can buy them some new equipment.”

The Evelina Children's Hospital, at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, provides everything from routine care to life saving treatment for over 100,000 children every year and includes intensive care, neurology, and specialist heart and kidney units.

Ellen got the all clear a few months ago but will still need to return to Evelina twice a year for check up.

Fallot's Tetralogy, or the tetralogy of Fallot, is the most common cyanotic heart defect and cause of blue baby syndrome.

The condition is named after Etienne Fallot, a French Physician who was one of the first to describe the defect, in 1888.

The primary symptom is low blood oxygen saturation from birth or developing in the first year of life.

Other symptoms include heart murmur which may range from almost imperceptible to very loud, difficulty in feeding, failure to gain weight, retarded growth and physical development and breathing difficulties.

A chest x-ray is often enough to determine the presence of Fallot's but the most common method to diagnose this condition is with echocardiography, a quick, specific procedure involving no radiation.

Patients with repaired tetralogy of Fallot have the potential to live normal lives with continued excellent cardiac function but surgical repair does not provide a lifetime correction of the defect.

Lifetime follow-up care by an adult congenital cardiologist is recommended to monitor risks and to recommend treatment.

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