A 10-year-old boy challenged himself to walk 5,000 steps every day for two weeks to raise over £1,175 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where he’s undergone three life-saving open-heart surgeries.

Ellis Ryder, a proud heart patient from Leominster, set himself the challenge to thank the hospital for the incredible care he has been receiving ever since he was born with a congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus.

Ellis’s condition meant that the vessel that pumps blood out of his heart hadn’t formed correctly, and at just one-week-old, he was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he underwent open-heart surgery to fix the problem. The operation was a success and after a month in hospital, mum and dad, Rebecca and Ashley, were finally able to take their new baby home.

The family knew it would be the start of a long journey for little Ellis, and over the coming months he returned to hospital regularly for scans, to make sure his heart was healing and functioning correctly. It was during one of these scans, at six-months-old, when doctors noticed a build-up of calcium. With no time to lose, Ellis was taken to theatre where surgeons successfully replaced a conduit in his heart.

Ellis continued to do well over the years, but in 2019 another scan showed that another of the conduits that was used to fix his heart in his very first operation needed replacing, meaning yet another open-heart surgery. The news tore the Ryder family apart. Ellis couldn’t remember his first two operations, but now he was older and understood what was going on, he was terrified. To make matters worse, when the time for his operation came around the following year, the pandemic was in full swing. It meant that only one of his parents could stay with him on the ward due to visitor restrictions in place to keep everyone safe.

Thankfully, Ellis’s third operation went well, and after a week on the ward he was discharged to recover at home with his parents and his little brother, six-year-old Tommy. Ellis soon returned to his energetic self and less than six months after his major surgery, he was pulling on his trainers and buckling up his Fitbit to count his steps.

Rebecca said: “Ever since Ellis was old enough to understand about his condition, he’s been fiercely proud to be a heart patient, and he’s especially proud of “his” hospital – we feel like we owe the doctors there the world!

“We were a little worried his challenge might have been a bit much for him, but he proved us all wrong. He went out to get his steps in every single day, and even when it was raining he still used my running machine to reach his goals. We’re so proud of him!”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Our hospital is a special place for many of our patients, who have spent most of their lives under our care, and it’s so heart-warming to see that connection and pride inspiring our sick kids to fundraise for us.

“Ellis has raised an incredible amount for us through his dedication and determination, and that will go on to help us do more for the 90,000 sick kids we treat every year.”