A woman from Warwickshire has raised over £1,700 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity after taking on a number of fundraising activities, including the extreme of having her head shaved, after her granddaughter was born with a rare and complex heart condition.

Sheral Russell, 54, from Southam, decided to brave the shave along with her daughter, Laura, after her granddaughter, Issabella, had to have open-heart surgery at just 11-days-old.

When Issabella was born, examinations found that she had a heart murmur. In many cases, murmurs can be harmless, so Laura and her husband, James, got ready to take their baby girl home. However, just as they were due to leave, doctors called them back to deliver some devastating news that stopped them in their tracks.

Upon further investigation, it turned out that the murmur was actually caused by an underlying heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. This meant that where Issabella should have had two separate blood vessels and valves flowing from her heart, she only had one.

Issabella was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where surgeons performed a delicate operation to fix the problem and give her the valve she was missing. Thankfully the operation was a huge success and after spending two weeks on the hospital’s cardiac ward to recover, Issabella was well enough to go home for the very first time.

Grateful for her granddaughter’s safe return and the excellent care she received at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Sheral felt compelled to do anything she could to raise money and say thank you. When her sister offered to donate £100 to the cause if Sheral joined her daughter in shaving her head, she thought why not? However, Sheral didn’t stop there. Having only recently taken up jogging, she laced up her running shoes to tackle the Silverstone Half Marathon to say thank you to the hospital that saved her granddaughter’s life.

 Sheral said: “I can’t put into words how much Birmingham Children’s Hospital means to me and my family, without its fantastic care, Issabella might not be here so I wanted to give something back.

“Some might think that I was crazy to shave my head, but all I could think was how much money we would be able to raise if I were to do it. After all the Issabella has been through, this seemed so trivial in comparison, so off it went. In actual fact, taking on a half marathon with my husband Nigel was more of a challenge, as I’d only just started running!”

half marathon

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re so inspired by the lengths some of our supporters go to, to raise money for our young patients and hospital, and shaving your head is definitely one of the bravest!  We’re so grateful to Sheral for everything she’s done for us and the money she’s raised will go on to help us do more for the 90,000 sick kids we treat every year.”

If you’ve been inspired to fundraise for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity or would like to donate, please visit bch.org.uk, email [email protected] or call 0121 333 8506.