A dad from Shrewsbury has been named as this week’s charity champion after taking on two half marathons and raising over £700 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, as a thank you to the staff who saved his daughter’s life.

Jonathan Elford took on the Great Birmingham Run last weekend (Sunday 13 October) just seven days after crossing the line at the Shrewsbury Half Marathon, following a life-changing personal experience at the hospital, when his baby daughter Louisa had to have a life-saving liver transplant.

When she was just seven-weeks-old, Louisa was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a childhood disease where the bile ducts of the liver are blocked or abnormally narrow.  Just five days after the diagnosis, she had her first operation to open up the ducts, however Jonathan and his wife, Serena were told that there was a chance Louisa would need a transplant in the future.  Unfortunately, that time came seven months later in December 2018, when Louisa returned to the hospital, after a donor was found. The transplant went smoothly and she was discharged just a few weeks later in January 2019, although there have been some bumps in Louisa’s road to recovery, and she remains under the close watch of her consultant.

Having never had to spend any time in hospitals before, Jonathan and his family didn’t know what to expect. It was not how they had planned their Christmas, but they were blown away by the care, attention and effort that they saw on a daily basis, to keep the children and their families happy during their stay. That’s when Jonathan decided that he was going to take on the Birmingham Half Marathon to raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, and to raise awareness for the importance of organ donation.

Jonathan managed to hit his fundraising target of £500, but after hearing about Louisa’s condition and treatment at the hospital his employer, O2, very generously donated a further £200.

Jonathan said: “Our experience with this hospital has changed our outlook on life, despite the lifelong consequences of having had a transplant.  We were absolutely amazed by the skills, empathy, team work and results that the liver team and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit delivered. We are also eternally grateful to the thoughtful family, who made the heart-wrenching decision to donate their child’s liver and give our daughter another chance to live a healthy life.

 “If someone had told me that I would be able to run two half marathons in seven days, I wouldn’t have believed them. It was great to see so much support while running both routes, this definitely helped get me to the finishing line.”

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re so proud of Jonathan for completing the Birmingham Half Marathon and raising such a fantastic amount for our charity. It’s always so heart-warming to hear how experiences at our hospital can inspire parents to take on challenges like the Birmingham Half Marathon to help give something back. The money will help to ensure we can continue to provide the life-saving work and expert care children like Louisa need.”