Running the London Marathon in memory of Isaac

21 April 2017

Darren Smith ran the 2017 London Marathon in memory of his son, Isaac, who was treated at Evelina London's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) before he passed away.

smiling runner, darren smith, wearing for isaac labeled top during marathon
Darren running 2017 London Marathon in memory of his son, Isaac

Isaac's story 

After a placenta abruption during delivery at his local hospital in North London, Isaac was rushed to Evelina London when he was only a few hours old. The complications during Isaac's birth caused brain damage that required the specialist care of the NICU.

"The amazing team at St Thomas' and Evelina London did all they could for him to make him comfortable and put him through pioneering treatment to try to limit further brain damage," recalls Darren. 

Unfortunately, tests revealed Isaac's brain damage was too great to save him. 

"He'd fought very hard for six days," says Darren. "But sadly with the results showing quite how severe his brain damage was our consultant made the decision to turn off his life support."

Throughout this dark time, Darren was struck by the care and support provided by the staff at Evelina London.

"At the time, despite how tragic the circumstances were and how brave and strong our little boy had been to fight to survive, we were amazed by the quality and skills of the staff that looked after us, and this has continued in the four years since his death," he says. "We used Evelina London’s bereavement counselling services for a number of years and are still in touch with the nurses and consultants that looked after us all so well in our time at the hospital."

Running for Isaac

The 2017 London Marathon is not Darren's first fundraising event. Back in 2013, eight months after Isaac died, Darren ran the London Marathon for the first time after he and his partner pledged to fundraise for Evelina London in Isaac's memory. 

But his previous marathon experience hasn't made training any easier.

"Training has been dreadful this time so it’s going to take a very long time to get round," he says. "But with Isaac there with me every step of the way I'm sure I will get round, hopefully before the after party finishes."

Darren hasn't been alone in his fundraising efforts. Family and friends also fundraised in memory of the little boy and have helped to raise just over £35,000 in the four and a half years since Isaac's passing.

"People have taken part in numerous events in memory of Isaac, including marathons, half marathons, colour runs, obstacle runs, a skydive, an abseil, a birthday event each year and even a ukulele concert in 2016."

Darren and his partner also set up the website and blog Running for Isaac to try to show people what it's like to go through the tragedy of losing a child.

"It's very much a taboo subject," explains Darren. "As well as raising the money, we hope to raise awareness of the amazing work done at Evelina London and break the very difficult taboo of losing a child."

In recognition of Darren and his partner's fundraising in memory of Isaac, they have become Fundraising Ambassadors for Evelina London. 

"We look forward to attending many inspiring events showing how special Evelina London is," says Darren.

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