A three-year-old boy will take on a one mile run with his mum to support his brave baby sister who spent a month in hospital following birth complications.
Dylan Currah, from South Shields, will take on the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Family Run with his mum Catherine, after baby Caitlin spent a month in special care following a traumatic birth in South Tyneside Hospital.
Caitlin had to be placed in an incubator and tube-fed when complications meant Catherine had to undergo an emergency caesarean.
Mum Catherine had to undergo a blood transfusion and during the c-section, Caitlin swallowed a lot of fluid that damaged her stomach.
As her health deteriorated, it meant that she was forced to spend four weeks in South Tyneside Special Baby Care Unit under constant care from medical staff.
Thankfully, after a long recovery period, Caitlin is now five months old and thriving. Catherine received mental support and advice from Bliss, whose aim is to help families who have sick babies.
The family decided to fundraise for the charity, to raise awareness about postnatal and birth complications in children and to also support other families in the future.
Keen runner Dylan is likely to be the youngest runner in the Family Run, with his third birthday being just days before the event takes place on Sunday 9 July.
Catherine, 33, said: “Dylan will turn three just four days before the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Family Run so I think he will be one of the youngest runners in the group.
“He is very determined to do the run for his little sister and he has been brilliant helping through her illness, he has really grown up in the last five months.
“Dylan will be running for Caitlin because he adores her and always made sure he visited her in hospital.
“Caitlin was born by emergency c-section due to complications during my labour, when her heart rate dropped and never recovered.
“I had to undergo a blood transfusion after the operation and the whole experience left me and my husband devastated and in shock.
“Because of all of the medication I was given, the trauma she went through and the fact she swallowed a lot of fluid, she became extremely unwell and was rushed away to the special care very soon after birth.
“It was something I was never prepared for because I wasn't able to hold or feed her.
“The time in hospital was the most difficult we have ever faced and the feelings I went through I still cannot put into words.
“I didn't know how we could cope and watching Caitlin suffer and struggle for life and not being able to help her.
“It was extremely heartbreaking but the staff at the unit were unbelievably supportive and caring, and we genuinely can't thank them enough.
“I couldn't stay over with Caitlin so we came to hospital every day and we were so lucky to be supported by Bliss every step of the way.
“After four long weeks, which felt like four months, thankfully we could bring her home and Caitlin is now happy and healthy with her family. She's a fighter and such a little character; nothing phases her and it seems her experience in South Tyneside SCBU has only made her stronger.
“It made us realise that other children are not so lucky and will need the continued support from Bliss so we decided to do something about it.”
Dylan and his mum will take on the Family Run at the North East's biggest 10k running event, the Simplyhealth Great North 10k, when it returns to Gateshead in July.
The Simplyhealth Great North 10k Family Run features a mile long run for children aged 3-16 who want to enjoy getting active with their families.
The families start and finish inside Gateshead International Stadium, in the same place that 5,000 10k runners will cross the finish line.
There's also the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Toddler Dash, for the tiniest of runners to take part in a short run in the stadium.
Catherine added: “Dylan loves running and although a mile will be a challenge for his little legs, I think it will be a great day for us to take on something like this as a family. My husband Peter and Caitlin will be cheering us on all the way!
“Dylan has been great with Caitlin and now she is on the mend, he is playing the role of big brother really well and I thought it would be a good opportunity to teach him about the importance of helping others.
“Bliss funds life saving research and I found out that a lot of the treatment at the unit has been provided because of the charity's efforts which is amazing.
“They're constantly trying to give sick and premature babies the best chance of survival in life and I think it's important to play a part in that.”
Support Dylan's fundraising here.
Enter the Simplyhealth Great North 10k and the Simplyhealth Great North 10k Family Mile and Toddler Dash here: Greatrun.org/North10k