A twelve year old boy from Cheshire has gone the extra mile for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, after completing a marathon in his back garden and raising over £1 800 as a thank you for to the hospital for saving his life when he was just three days old.

Luis Mayes, a pupil at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, began his back garden marathon as part of his PE homework to get active outdoors during the lockdown, with the added challenge of raising money for charity. Luis immediately knew he wanted to do something incredible and after deciding on a marathon, started his planning by measuring the distance of one lap of his garden. He worked out that he would need to do 1,295 laps to make the full 26.2 miles and for the next week, Luis ran 185 laps of his garden every day.

Setting his fundraising target at £100, Luis knew that he could only take on such a big challenge for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, a cause especially close to his heart after he received life-saving surgery there as a baby, and where he continues to be treated.

At the time of his birth, Luis’s family were living in Birmingham. Whilst his mum, Helen, was still pregnant, a scan showed Luis had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Coarctation of the Aorta, two congenital heart defects which meant that the left side of his heart hadn’t formed correctly and that the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood to the rest of the body, was too narrow. Therefore, just days after he was born, Luis was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to undergo major open-heart surgery to fix his little heart.

Helen with Luis

When Luis came out of theatre, Helen was relieved to learn that the surgeons had successfully repaired the aorta and the left side of his heart started to function normally.  After 3 months Helen and her husband, Nigel, could finally take their little boy home. However, his recovery wasn’t as smooth sailing as they’d hoped. Just a few weeks later Luis was struggling to breathe, so he was rushed back to Intensive Care, where he underwent a tracheostomy to fit a tube straight to his windpipe.

Fortunately the tracheostomy worked and it helped Luis to breathe more easily. It remained in place until Luis was three, when he was finally able to breathe without it.  Luis had a tough start to life, but has since grown up to be happy and healthy and while he still visits the hospital for six-monthly check-ups and may need more surgery in the future, his marathon has proven that he won’t let that stop him!

Luis said: “When I found that my homework was to do a challenge to raise money, I knew straight away I wanted to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. My back garden marathon has been really hard and I’m so tired now, but if it wasn’t for the doctors and nurses at the hospital, I wouldn’t have been able to do it at all, so this is me saying thank you.”

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Wow, Luis in an inspiration to us all! Going from a tiny baby with a poorly heart to taking on a marathon in his back garden, we couldn’t be more grateful for his determination and dedication.

 “Luis absolutely smashed his original fundraising target, raising £1,800 in total, which will help us continue supporting the vital work of the brilliant NHS heroes at our hospital.”