THE parents of a Sheffield toddler who spent most of the first 12 months of his life in the Children’s Hospital will be stepping out for a charity walk this weekend alongside the surgeon who helped to save their son’s life.
Laura Cartwright and Barry Whitlam, of Handsworth, will join the first Children’s Hospital Charity’s Peaks Peaks’ challenge on Sunday, walking 15 miles from Edale to Torside, over the four highest peaks in the Peak District.
Their 23-month-old son, Carter Whitlam, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia – a condition that meant he was born with only one fully formed lung and a very small lung.
Three days after he was born, he was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he was to have several operations, including emergency surgery that helped save his life. One of three surgeons was Sean Marven, who will also be on the Peaks’ Peaks challenge.
Barry said: “Mr Marven operated on Carter when he was just four days old to fix his diaphragm and move his stomach and bowel back down to his abdomen and also to move his heart to the right side of his body. Amazing work, especially on a baby of 7lb 10oz!
“Carter was doing really well but in December 2009 he developed a perforated bowel and needed further emergency surgery. He suffered two heart attacks over the Christmas period in 2009 and was named the ‘Christmas miracle’ by staff after overcoming two life-threatening conditions in two weeks.
“Throughout Carter’s treatment, Mr Marven, alongside an amazing team of nurses and doctors, was on hand to support us through the really tough times.
“After nearly a year in hospital Mr Marven then operated on Carter in May 2010 to reverse his stomas, which were two surgical incisions which helped him with his bowel movements.
“It meant that over time we could try and get Carter to eat and not be dependant on intravenous feeding through his arm. It also meant that Carter was finally able to go home in June.”
Laura said: “We can’t thank Mr Marven enough for what he has done for Carter and we are delighted that he will be joining us on the Peaks’ Peaks challenge.
“In total there will be 12 of us taking part in the challenge as part of Team Carter. We have already done a sponsored zip slide for the Children’s Hospital Charity but wanted to do something again this year. We heard about Peaks’ Peaks being held the day after Carter’s second birthday and it just fitted perfectly.”
Barry added: “Carter is doing brilliantly now. To look at him you would never think he’d had such a tough start to life. He’s always happy and laughing and loves football, playing with his sister and dancing to ‘The wheels on the bus’!
“I am amazed by him and his courage and determination. Every morning I just look at him and smile. I am so proud of him. He’s so small but has so much fight in him!
“Although I am not looking forward to the long 15 miles of the challenge, what Carter went through will always give me the determination to succeed.
“I just hope people get behind us and show their support for the charity, because you never know when you might need the hospital for your own children, or a child close to you.”
Sean Marven said: “It’s fantastic to see Carter looking so well after all that he has been through. He was always a very determined little boy and following his last operation he amazed us all by how soon he recovered.”
More than 50 people will join the challenge, including five governors from Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
lVisit www.tchc.org.uk/peaks or go to www.justgiving.com/team-carter.
lDad’s trek for baby unit, page 16.