Mum Marks 10 Years Of Son’S Heart Op At North 10K

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A woman is set to take on a running challenge to mark the tenth year of her young son undergoing life-saving heart surgery.

Nicki Battensby, from Wallsend, was devastated when she was told during her pregnancy that her son Jake had Tetralogy of Fallots – a congenital heart condition which involves four heart defects occurring together.

Jake had inherited the condition from Nicki’s brother xx, who tragically passed away in the 80s to the same condition.

The family were forced to relive their worst nightmare, although they were reassured that medicine had moved on and that he should be able to lead a relatively normal life.

Jake was born prematurely in June 2007 and did well until five months later, he collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital. He was given an urgent appointment for life-saving heart surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to repair the defects at less than a year old, which took over six hours.

Ten years on, Jake is a happy and healthy 10-year-old who his parents say have proved everyone wrong. This year, he wanted to celebrate ten years post operation by taking on 10 challenges to fundraise for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) at the Freeman hospital, with mum Nicki joining him.

One of the event she is taking part in is the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Gateshead on Sunday 8 July.

Nicki, 38, said: “Our story started in November 1981 when my younger brother was born with Tetralogy of Fallots in the 1980s. Unfortunately, back then there was no cure for him and he passed away.

“I was expecting my second son and as with my first received a foetal heart scan to ensure that he didn’t suffer from the same illness as his uncle. Unfortunately Jake was found to have the condition when I was 20 weeks pregnant.

“We were devastated as were my parents as this was reliving all of their worst nightmares. We were assured that medicine had moved on significantly and that while Jake would be poorly he could lead a normal life.

“Jake was born for weeks early and whilst they expected him to require support at birth he managed to hold his own. After a week in the Specialist Baby Care Unit, we took him home – he was our little fighter!

“But he collapsed at home that November and was rushed to hospital where we were told that hhe would need to go through heart surgery as soon as possible.

“Jake’s life was at risk so we had no choice, even though I was terrified because I knew that we had lost my brother at a similar age. “He was gone 6.5 hours and I felt every second of them but he did it, he came back to us. My husband and I stayed at the hospital while he was in theatre and all during his recovery.

“He was planned to be in hospital for four weeks but after just 10 days he was sent home – he was not going to be beaten!

“10 years on Jake is happy, healthy and proving doctors wrong.

“Still today he is proving medics wrong, Jake shouldn’t play contact sport and yet plays rugby and judo! “He should have had at least one more surgical procedure by now and he hasn’t needed it – he is still under the Freeman’s care with annual check-ups, but he keeps on fighting.

“This year we decided we wanted to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Jake’s operation to raise money for CHUF and to thank the amazing doctors and nurses who have made him better.

Nicki will join 5,000 others who will share the satisfaction of completing a challenge at the Simplyhealth Great North 10k, whatever their pace or motivation.

Runners will experience the ultimate finish line feeling as they enter Gateshead International Stadium where friends and family can gather to cheer them on.

The Simplyhealth Great North 10k is the perfect training event for the Simplyhealth Great North Run and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Nicki, who works as a school business manager, is also taking part in the world’s biggest half marathon this September.

She added: “Before April last year I couldn’t even run to catch a bus and now I am taking on 10ks and half marathons which is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

“CHUF are amazing, they have offered our family all kinds of support throughout the last ten years. It’s not just the patients they care about it’s the whole family.

“In the aftermath or recovery, sometimes you just need to talk to someone or ask for advice to ease your mind and they were always there.”

To support Nicki’s fundraising visit:

Every runner has a story, it’s time to start yours. Enter the Simplyhealth Great North 10k at: