A Lincolnshire dad will race 13.1 miles in the Great North Run next month to thank a charity close to his heart, who kept him and his wife by their daughter’s bedside during her lifesaving treatment in hospital.
Chris and Gabriella Davey’s daughter Sophia was born with a condition called 1p36 chromosome deletion syndrome, which is diagnosed in one in 10,000 babies. Predominantly it affects speech and movement but it can cause abnormalities in other areas of the body.
At one point, doctors only gave Sophia a 50% chance of survival, but thankfully she pulled through and returned back to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where she was first treated. Sophia has now been home a year and has made a remarkable recovery.
Chris is now taking on the Great North Run in Newcastle upon Tyne on September 12 this year to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust as a thank you for everything it did for the family and Sophia, who is nearly 18 months old now.
He has so far raised over £300 on his fundraising page – make a donation here.
At five weeks old, in March 2020, Sophia suddenly stopped breathing one day and was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where she was treated for a floppy windpipe, pneumonia and sepsis.
It was during this time that the family, who live in Louth, were then immediately offered a place at The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ Magnolia House, which supports families of sick children being treated at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The charity gave them somewhere to stay 24/7, which was just minutes from their child’s hospital bedside.
While Sophia was in Sheffield she was also diagnosed with three holes in her heart. In April last year, Sophie was transferred to Leeds Children’s Hospital for heart surgery.
Chris and Gabriella were able to travel with her as they were supported by another of the charity’s ‘Homes from Home’ in Leeds called Eckersley House, which is directly opposite the hospital.
Sophia spent six months in hospital battling pneumonia, sepsis, heart failure, seizures and open heart surgery, which Chris described as “the toughest six months of our lives, but knowing that we had somewhere to stay, sleep and escape constant beeping machines made life easier”.
Chris said: “Both houses were an absolute godsend. You’re under so much stress and pressure when your child is in hospital so being able to stay close to them makes you feel just that little bit better.
“Sophia’s second stay for her heart surgery was during COVID-19 and only one parent was allowed on the ward and in Eckersley and Magnolia Houses. That was really difficult for me being at home alone, but knowing that Gabriella was always there made me feel a lot better.
“That’s why I started running in lockdown, to get myself out of the house and to clear my head. I really wanted to give back to The Sick Children’s Trust so the charity can support more families. Taking part in Great North Run is a great way to do that.
“Sophia is nearly 18 months old now and while we don’t know if she’ll be able to walk or talk properly, she is doing so much better. She is definitely our little fighter.”
The Sick Children’s Trust relies on the generosity of its supporters to keep its 10 ‘Homes from Home’ supporting families. The charity does not charge families for their stay, but it does cost the trust £30 to support a family for one night.
Ann Wyatt, Magnolia House Manager, said: “Sophia has been through so much in her short life but we’re so glad we were able to keep her parents by her side throughout this difficult time. It’s wonderful to hear she is doing a lot better now.
“We can’t thank Chris enough for taking part in the Great North Run to raise funds so that more families can stay just a stone’s throw away from their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside.”