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For Owen

24th October 2011

Hello. My name is Graham Hacking and I have worked for Bromak for two years. Please excuse the personal nature of this blog but I’d really appreciate if you could spare the time to read it and if possible, could donate to a very worthwhile cause.

It’s about my son, Owen. Owen was born on Boxing Day in 2007 weighing in at 5lb 8oz. Although he needed a little oxygen straight after birth, all seemed fine and six weeks later he passed the usual six week checks.

Six weeks after that however, things started to change. It was a Friday night and I was just about to sit down for dinner with my wife, Kate, when Owen started to cry.

At first we thought it was an upset tummy, but then his eyes started rolling to the back of his head, he began foaming at the mouth and went limp.

We raced to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and, by the time we got there, he was blue and they rushed him into the emergency room. Within minutes a whole medical team was around him and they put Owen on a life support machine.

They told us they didn’t know what was going to happen overnight, we just had to wait.

At first it was thought Owen had a hole in the heart but further tests and scans revealed it was even more serious, with further complications on top of that.

Owen didn’t have a fully developed pulmonary artery arteriosus and he had only survived for three months because when a baby is born they have a patent ductus, a tube that provides the child with oxygen to take the first breathes when they are born.

Normally within hours it closes over but his stayed open. The reason he was in trouble now was because it was trying to close over.

Owen was diagnosed with Di George Syndrome, a condition that occurs when a part of the DNA on chromosome 22 is missing. Several different genes are lost, resulting in a collection of different features, including problems with the immune system, congenital heart defects and abnormalities of the parathyroid glands.

Symptoms and severity can differ greatly, with some children not surviving beyond the first year. Owen has undergone three operations already to try to improve the blood supply and oxygen supply to his lungs. The first was to place a shunt to encourage blood flow through his multi aortic pulmonary arteries (MAPCAs).

A second was performed to put in place a conduit, a small tube, to connect his MAPCAs to his right lung and a third – carried out after medics had feared there was nothing more they could do – was performed in Birmingham where two vessels were patched up and reconnected to the right lung in the hope that it will grow and function properly.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like much else can be done, and that Owen will survive as long as his left lung lasts.

A heart and lung transplant is not an option for Owen as his case is complicated because it’s not just his heart that is the problem but the ‘plumbing’ around it.

Raising money goes a long way to helping as it allows more research to be done, for example, they are already providing people waiting for a heart transplant with an artificial one.

This is the main reason for the blog post, to highlight the fundraising efforts of my wife, Kate.

She will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak, in September 2012, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. She has to raise at least £4,000 just to do the climb, but we hope we raise a great deal more than that with people’s generosity.

In Kate’s words:

“This is massively important to me. I just want Owen to have a better life expectation – he is such an incredible little boy, and doing something towards funding helps me focus, and gives me light at the end of the tunnel.

“And I want to make Owen proud of me because he has done so much to make me proud of him.”

So, thank you for taking the time to read our story, we really appreciate everyone’s kind words of encouragement and support and greatly value all donations that have been made to help us and help others in similar situations.

All donations go a long way and you can help us and donate here – http://original.justgiving.com/katekilimanjaro

Thanks again for your time.

Graham Hacking.

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