Running for Théodore the Superbaby

28 October 2019

A “Superbaby” who was born with a rare heart defect has defied the odds and is about to celebrate his first birthday.

AWoman in a running shirt, holding a baby, amongst a group of other runners, post race
Amanda, after the 2019 Royal Parks, with the rest of Team Theo, and the superbaby himself, Théodore

Théodore Clark Chamming’s, was born at his local hospital in November 2018 but he immediately turned blue and had to be intubated, which involved inserting a tube down his throat to help him breathe.

He was only a couple of hours old when he was rushed by ambulance with his dad, Alex, to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in the early hours of the morning.

Doctors discovered that Théodore had total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR), a rare heart defect where the four blood vessels (pulmonary veins) that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart from the lungs are not connected correctly.

His mum, Amanda, said: “All the scans throughout my pregnancy had been fine so it was a complete shock. Around three hours after giving birth I was discharged and went straight to Evelina London to be with Théodore. When I arrived, there were loads of people looking after him in PICU and when he was just eight hours old they rushed him into theatre for emergency open-heart surgery – it was a pretty horrific time for us.”

Surgeons carried out an operation, which involved stopping Théodore’s tiny heart from beating for one hour in order to make the repairs, while a cardiopulmonary bypass machine took over the function of his heart and lungs.

Amanda, a lawyer, said: “Théodore spent two weeks in PICU and was hooked up to lots of wires so we couldn’t hold him. He had fluid on his lungs along with a number of other post-op complications, and at one point we were told that he might not make it and that we should prepare for the worst.
“Thankfully he turned a corner and spent a further two weeks in Savannah Ward, which cares for children with heart conditions, before we could take him home just in time for Christmas.

“We had amazing support from everyone at Evelina London and we were so lucky that Théodore received the best care possible. All the staff were wonderful and you can tell it isn’t just a job for them. Even after he was discharged the nurses answered my calls and emails whenever I had a question.”

The 32-year-old added: “When I was pregnant with Théodore my husband wanted to name him after a superhero because he loves Marvel and DC comics. I compromised by agreeing to the middle name Clark after Superman Clark Kent – Théodore really is our determined little Superbaby who has fought his way through.”

Father, with his baby son, both smiling into the camera with their Superman tops
Théodore and dad Alex both in Superman gear (all photos provided by Amanda Chamming)

The Chamming’s are now taking on challenges to raise money for Evelina London as a ‘thank you’ to the medics who cared for him.

Amanda recently took part in the Royal Parks half marathon with 12 work friends, as well as Théodore’s intensive care consultant, Dr Shelley Riphagen. Meanwhile, 34-year-old Alex is set to run the London Marathon next year with his brother-in-law and Amanda’s cousin has committed to swimming a mile every day until Théodore’s first birthday – the equivalent of another marathon.

Amanda said: “We go back to Evelina London quite often and each visit reminds us how lucky we are to have Théodore with us here today – we’ll never be able to thank Evelina London for everything they did for us, but we hope that the money we raise can go towards helping them save other precious lives.”

Money raised by Team Theo will be split between the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and Cardiology Kids, which aims to raise £150,000 for the Cardiology Team as a legacy of the 150th birthday of Evelina London.

Dr Shelley Riphagen, a consultant in children's intensive care, said: “Théodore was very sick when he arrived at Evelina London so a huge team of specialists came together to care for him. It’s wonderful to see him doing so well ahead of his first birthday. Amanda and Alex are such inspirational fundraisers and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.”

To support the family’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/superbaby

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