A grateful father of twins who were born 13 weeks premature is organising a charity cycle ride from Battle to Bruges next month in aid of Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
Stuart Mathieson and his three friends, Paul Matthews, Mike Nolan and Dom Campagnone, are attempting the ride, which is around 100 miles, from Battle Abbey to the Belgian town on September 6.
In July last year Stuart and his wife, Rebecca praised the Conquest Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and Medway Hospital’s Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit (NICU) for looking after Elise and Theo after they were born premature.
The couple organised a charity golf day in aid of the two hospitals they said saved their children’s lives.
Stuart, who lives in Herstmonceux, said two-year-old Theo had to undergo open heart surgery at Evelina last year, which saved his life.
His bike ride is to raise money for the hospital’s cardiology unit.
Stuart said: “Without charitable contributions, the specialist cardiac unit would not be able to buy the life-saving equipment that it needs. The horror of having to put our child through open heart surgery will live with us for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, Theo’s outcome was a positive one but there are many more children and their parents who will have to deal with this in the future. Our hope is that we can pay something back to them for saving his life.
“Theo will have to have further surgery by the time he is 15. He has a congenital heart condition, called Tetralogy of Fallot, which is nothing to do with him being born premature.”
Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth.
Symptoms at birth may vary from none to severe. Later there is typically episodes of bluish color to the skin. When affected babies may develop what is known as a ‘tet spell’ where they turn very blue, have difficulty breathing, become limp, and occasionally lose consciousness.
Tetralogy of Fallot, which results in low oxygenation of blood, occurs in about one in 2,000 newborn babies.
Stuart’s cycle ride is part of a wider fundraising drive, which is aiming to have 150 families who have been affected by their children’s cardiac surgery to raise £1,000 each for Evelina, by any means possible, to mark the 150 years of the hospital’s work.
Anyone wishing to donate to Stuart’s cause can visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/battletobruges.