Mum Revti’s marathon in thanks for her son’s life-saving heart operation

09 November 2020

The London Marathon may have been cancelled this year, but that didn’t stop one mum from pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles to raise money for the hospital that saved her son’s life.

Harikesh at home
Harikesh at home

Harikesh’s story

When Revti went to her 15-week pregnancy scan, she got news that expectant parents dread to hear. There was a problem with her unborn son Harikesh’s heart: he had an atrioventricular septal heart defect (AVSD). 

Children born with AVSD have holes between the chambers of the right and left sides of the heart, and the valves that control the flow of blood between these chambers may not be formed correctly.

The only way to fix the condition is with major open heart surgery. To give Harikesh the best possible outcome, he was referred to Evelina London for monitoring shortly after his birth in January 2019.

The stress on the heart can cause babies with AVSD to develop signs of heart failure such as rapid breathing, feeding problems, slow weight gain and low energy.

“The doctor compared his struggle to that of a person trying to run and drink at the same time,” recalls Revti. “We were expecting Harikesh to have the surgery when he was around six months old, but it was bought forward because his heart was working too hard."

At just two months old, Harikesh was booked in to have the operation at Evelina London to repair his heart.

After over five hours in the operating room, Harikesh finally came out of surgery.

“The first sight of our son following his surgery was a shock, he didn’t look like himself,” says Revti. “He was swollen, covered with tubes and connected to numerous machines. The first 24 hours were critical in determining how he would recover. We were helpless and all we could do was wait.”

But thankfully, Harikesh bounced back quickly from his surgery. The next day most of the tubes he was connected to were removed, and within a couple of days he was transferred out of intensive care to the children’s ward.

“My son’s strength is an inspiration to us every day,” says Revti. “He has been through so much at such a young age and fought so hard to regain his health.”

Harikesh is now 21 months old, and thanks to the ongoing support and care from the cardiology team, Revti has had the joy of watching her son develop his own personality and play with his brother.

Harikesh with his mum, Revti
Harikesh with his mum, Revti

Running the marathon

A few months after the surgery, Revti signed up for the Virgin Money London Marathon to support Evelina London. Undeterred when the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the event, Revti found another way to show her gratitude for her son’s life-saving care.

Revti decided to complete the challenge by herself, running the 26.2 miles around her local area in five hours and nine minutes.

“Everyone at Evelina London went above and beyond to look after my boy during surgery and throughout his recovery,” says Revti. “The operation has given him the opportunity to now live a long and active life. Without these amazing professionals our son’s story would have been a very different one.”

“I’m absolutely delighted that Harikesh is doing well, and so grateful to Revti for taking on a marathon to raise funds for Evelina London,” says Dr Vita Zidere, a consultant foetal and paediatric cardiologist involved with Harikesh’s care.

It was considerably harder to run the marathon without a crowd cheering her on, or the company of other marathon runners. But knowing how much the hospital had done for Harikesh was all the motivation Revti needed to push through.

Thanks to her efforts, Revti has raised over £6,200 so far for her son’s hospital.

“Thank you will never be enough,” says Revti. “The care he and I received, and the aftercare he continues to receive, is second to none.”

You can still give back to your hospital even if your fundraising event has been cancelled. Find out how you can get active and do your own fundraising for Evelina London.

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