A grateful nan and nine of her friends have put their best feet forward after completing a marathon walk and raising over £8,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, after her grandson received a life-saving heart transplant at just 15-months-old.

Mel Dixon, from Burton upon Trent, and a group of her closest friends laced up their hiking boots, walking 26 miles along the Heart of England Way to show their thanks to the staff who cared for baby Hudson.

Hudson was just five-months-old when his parents, Beth and Ryan, noticed he was having difficulty feeding, his breathing was rapid and he was sweating. Beth and Ryan took Hudson to their local hospital where he was diagnosed with suspected Bronchiolitis but after a scan, it became apparent that Hudson was in severe heart failure and he was immediately rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Hudson was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a condition which affects the heart muscle meaning it can’t pump blood around the heart as well as a healthy heart can, and the shocked family were told that the next 48 hours were critical as to whether Hudson would survive.


Hudson was placed on an IV drip and began to show some signs of improvement but then he contracted Rhinovirus (common cold) and Doctors broke the news to his devastated parents that his heart was not going to recover. Hudson would need a new heart to survive.

Hudson was placed on the transplant list but needed to remain in hospital in isolation, on his IV drip, until the gift of a new heart became available to him.

Hudson spent his first Halloween, first Christmas and his first Birthday on the cardiac wards at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he received incredible care from doctors, nurses, play workers, housekeepers and every role in between, who made sure that Hudson’s “firsts” were as special as they could be for both him and his mummy and daddy. 

Then, in June this year, Hudson finally got the call – they had a heart for him. He was rushed by blue lights to Newcastle, where doctors there gave him his new heart and another chance at life.

Meanwhile, nannie Mel and her friends had already begun planning, training and fundraising for a walk in aid of the hospital where Hudson had spent the majority of his young life but as Hudson’s story unfolded and he received his new heart, their motivation grew, along with their fundraising total.

Mel said: “The first 15 months of Hudson’s life were a rollercoaster for our family, but we got through it thanks to the brilliant staff who looked after us, just as much as they did Hudson. We wanted to do something to thank them, but also to help buy new toys and equipment for the amazing Wards 11 and 12 where we spent so much time. 

“It took us just over nine hours to complete the 26 miles, which isn’t bad for a group of fifty-something-year-olds! It wasn’t easy!  We’re so pleased with the amount we raised but we’re also glad we have been able to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, especially in children.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “After such a scary start to life, we’re so glad that Hudson is finally doing well with his new heart. Mel and her friends took on an incredible challenge for us and the funds they raised with every step will go on to support other families on our cardiac wards.”