Father of seriously ill new-born to run Manchester 10k for The Sick Children’s Trust after charity came to his family’s aid at Leeds General Infirmary
Published on Thursday, 10th May 2018
Tom Alloway, in his early-30s, is fundraising for The Sick Children’s Trust, after the charity was able to help him and his partner Stef stay by their daughter’s bedside when she was transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit and underwent two major operations as a new-born.
Diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia before she was even born, doctors recommended that Agnes be delivered at Leeds General Infirmary, a specialist paediatric hospital, miles away from her family’s home.
Within the first four weeks of her life, the baby girl had been transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and undergone two major operations.
Understandably, both Tom and Stef wanted to be at their daughter’s bedside as much as possible, but she was being treated in a hospital that was in an entirely different county to their home. Fortunately, The Sick Children’s Trust were able to offer the couple a room at their Eckersley House facility which provides families just like theirs with free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation. They were never more than a few minutes from Agnes.
‘Words can’t describe how distraught we were to find out that something was wrong with Agnes,’ Tom, an Administrator at the University of York, recalled. ‘My dreams of having the perfect little family disappeared in an instant and were instead replaced with a sense of apprehension and anxiety.
‘All we could do was hope that our baby was a fighter and would survive the lifesaving surgery she would need within weeks of being born.
‘When Agnes was in NICU, we were offered a room at Eckersley House and it was such a relief. Although Stef and I dread leaving her at the end of each day, we both knew that, with a direct line from our bedroom at Eckersley House to NICU, we would know instantly if her condition changed and we could be by our baby’s side within minutes.
‘Having a ‘Home from Home’ also gave us a space to get away from the incessant beeping of machines which, at the time, felt like torture.
‘Eckersley House allowed to fall into a sort of routine where we could do everyday things such as making a home-cooked meal or taking a shower – things you’d normally take for granted. The house was such a safe haven for both Stef and I, as we were exhausted from spending up to 18 hours a day in NICU with Agnes.’
Happily, Agnes is now six months old, has improved so much that she has been allowed home and has inspired her dad to take on a challenge: running the Manchester 10k.
‘Stef and I both wanted to give something back to the charity that provided us with so much support when we needed it most,’ he said. ‘Without The Sick Children’s Trust, this incredibly tough time would’ve been even harder.
‘This challenge is by far the biggest thing I will ever have done. Training started very slowly but I’ve been surprised how quickly my body adapted.
‘Although finding the time to fit in the longer runs is a real challenge, I am committed to completing the race and raising money for an amazing cause.’
Tom is hoping to raise £1,000 for The Sick Children’s Trust by the time the Manchester 10k takes place on Sunday 20th May.