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​Team Arthur takes on a 150th birthday challenge

17.01.19 Categories: Patient stories,

To look at little Arthur as he toddles cheerfully around his home, nobody would guess that this lively one-year-old's life hung in the balance just a few short months ago. Thanks to Evelina London, his life was saved.

Parents Caroline and Graeme are saying thank you in the most inspirational way – by setting themselves a huge target to help more children under Evelina London's care.

Arthur was a healthy baby until he caught a cold in May 2018. When he failed to get better, his parents took him to the GP – and soon discovered that he had a viral infection called myocarditis, which had caused severe, acute heart failure.

‘Within 24 hours he was fighting for his life – we didn’t return home for three weeks,’ Caroline remembers.

‘They care for children with amazing dedication, compassion and expertise’

After being rushed to Evelina London's paediatric intensive care unit, Arthur received first-class care straight away. Everything possible was done to try to stop and reverse the damage to his heart. And the team did more than attend to Arthur's physical health, as Caroline recalls:

‘They really took care of the emotional wellbeing of our whole family. Once, when I had to leave Arthur during the night hours, his nurse asked me if there was anything she could do while I was away. I said: Just love him for me while I’m not here.’

‘I came back in the morning to find her sitting in the armchair with Arthur cradled in her arms, doing just that, loving him.’

Today Arthur is thriving and his heart is working normally. ‘His journey has amazed everyone – we feel blessed’, Caroline says.

A wonderful way to say thank you

On a follow up trip to the hospital for monitoring, Caroline noticed the coloured 'thumb prints' on the walls of the hospital that celebrate fundraising achievements. She was motivated to celebrate Evelina London's 150th birthday in a really special way:

‘We wanted to say thank you to the cardiology team for saving Arthur's life. When we found that each 'thumb print' was in recognition of a gift over £25,000, we knew we had our goal!’

At first the target felt daunting, but having already reached the half way point Caroline is convinced they'll achieve it. ‘The key to success is a plan’, says Caroline. ‘We sat down and thought about how we wanted to approach the challenge and came up with a vision to keep us focused – to fundraise and find the fun in family life again.’

Putting the 'fun' into fundraising

Once they got started, Caroline and her friends and family came up with lots of creative fundraising ideas including a swimathon where children swam a combined total of 150 lengths to celebrate Evelina London's 150th birthday.

‘We have organised a comedy and curry night for 110 people in January which is a complete sell-out! In April, Arthur's dad, Graeme, and his great uncle, Gary are cycling 700 miles from Lowestoft to Lands End, via Evelina London, and in May we're hosting a party in the park, with an auction of promises.’

‘It's incredibly rewarding and worth the effort’

Juggling her fundraising efforts with raising three young children and caring for Arthur during his recovery isn't always easy, but Caroline says it's well worth the effort.

‘The trick has been to keep talking to people about Evelina London, to seek out opportunities and build them into everyday life. Friends and family are helping to organise events, share social media posts and spread the word. My mantra is 'relentlessly positive, relentlessly simple' and it seems to be working!’

Like Caroline and Graeme, you too can celebrate with us, by taking on Challenge 150 to mark our special birthday year. How will you get involved? Find out more

Lead image: Caroline with son, Arthur.