Taking on the marathon for Madison

09.03.18 Categories: Patient stories,

Jo Harlow’s three-year-old daughter Madison became very unwell back in 2015, and after being admitted to the family’s local hospital, it became clear that she was deteriorating rapidly.

Having been told that the doctors 'did not know how to save her', the family were sent by emergency ambulance to Evelina London Children's Hospital, where they were told that Madison’s kidneys had completely failed. 

Daily dialysis, frequent operations, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and feeding tubes were keeping Madison alive but she was in unbearable pain. 

Running the London Marathon for Madison

Jo remembers the time all too clearly and, now Madison has made a full recovery, explains why she has been motivated to take on the London Marathon for Evelina London.   

She says, ‘Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, Madison's breathing crashed and she was hallucinating and scared. 

‘An amazing doctor made the call to rush her to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and give her the one remaining bed there.  Our little girl was now on two life-support machines, 24/7 dialysis and had machines breathing for her.’

Jo continues, ‘I was told every time that a certain beep sounded, that was the machine taking a breath on Madison's behalf. Hearing this constant beep, I promised myself that if she survived this, I would raise money for this amazing hospital.’

One evening, Jo and Matt were walking outside the hospital, when they received a call from the PICU. Braced for the worst, they were told that Madison's kidneys had started to work again.

Jo says, ‘This tiny, brave girl hooked up to a million wires had somehow come through – we felt like we had won the lottery!’

Madison was getting stronger

Over time, Madison was taken off dialysis, the ventilator and feeding tubes. She was able to eat and drink again and soon after that she was walking on her own and getting stronger.

Jo remembers, ‘The day we took her home was the proudest day of my life.  Reuniting her with her little brother after so long was the best feeling in the world.’

Today, Madison is still under the care of Evelina London and visits the hospital for regular check-ups, but she is attending school, enjoying being a six-year-old – and an amazing big sister to Harry. 

Jo says, ‘Without Evelina London and the outstanding medical staff that continue to help Madison every step of the way, our lives would be very different.

‘People have told me I am mad to attempt the London Marathon, and they may be right, but it’s worth every step to make a difference to other sick children who deserve the chance to fight for their life the way Madison did.’

Inspired by Jo’s marathon run? Help her to hit her £5k fundraising target here or take on your own challenge for Evelina London