A grateful couple from Redditch have raised over £1,160 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity after walking 30 miles and simulating the route of the traumatic ambulance journey that changed their family’s lives forever.

Nicola Lawlor and her husband Joe walked the blistering distance from Worcester to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where just seven months earlier, one of their baby twin daughters, Darcie, underwent a life-saving operation.

Sixteen-month-old Darcie is now a happy, healthy toddler, but when she was just seven-months-old she became unwell with a fever that wouldn’t budge and as she became sweaty, floppy and grey, mum Nicola, knew it was serious. She rushed Darcie to their GP, who made the decision to call an ambulance and within minutes, Nicola and her poorly baby were on their way to their local hospital in Worcester. Darcie’s heart-rate was clocking in at a life-threatening 300 beats per minute during the ride and as she reached the hospital, she began to turn blue.

It was decided that Darcie needed specialist paediatric cardiac care, so pumped with medicine to try and help stabilise her little heart, she was then transferred 30 miles to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where doctors began running tests to find out why Darcie’s heart-rate was so dangerously high. Their investigations revealed that Darcie had suffered an episode of Ventricular Tachycardia – an unusual heart rhythm - and whilst she survived it, she may not be so lucky should it happen again. Devastated, Nicola and Joe watched helplessly as their baby girl was whisked into theatre to be fitted with an S-ICD, a device that would continuously monitor Darcie’s heartbeat and intervene by sending a small shock to correct any abnormal rhythms it may detect.

As Darcie recovered from her operation, the results from her tests confirmed a diagnosis that would affect her whole family – a rare, potentially life threatening and sometimes hereditary heart condition called Brugada Syndrome. Nicola has since discovered that she carries the gene associated with Brugada Syndrome and that Darcie’s twin sister Harper, now 16-months-old, also has the condition.

Not wanting to relive the terrifying day that Darcie became ill, Nicola decided she was going to fundraise to buy an AED (Defibrillator) to protect her family should the same thing happen to any of them in the future, and donate some of the left over money as a way of giving back to the hospital that saved her daughter’s life.

Nicola said: “Darcie’s ordeal has been a traumatic experience for our family but the care we’ve all received at Birmingham Children’s Hospital has been incredible, we knew we needed to do something to say thank you.

“It seemed fitting that we followed the journey that Darcie took in the ambulance so we started off bright and early with our two oldest children, Caitlin and Bailey, who walked the first 16 miles with us and Darcie and Harper joined us along the way too! It was really tough but our family smashed it and it was a great opportunity to raise awareness for Brugada Syndrome too.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “From seeing Darcie so poorly to the shock of finding out that Nicola and their other children could have the same condition, the Lawlors have had a lot on their plate so we’re so grateful that they have managed to take on such a challenge for us. The funds they’ve raised will go on to help us do more for other sick kids, just like Darcie.”

If you’d like to donate to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, click here.