Haywards Heath girl with heart condition to run Brighton Marathon mile to help other children
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Charlotte Howard, eight, who had open-heart surgery when she was nine weeks old, is raising money for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (ECHO), a charity that helps children with heart conditions and their families.
Charlotte, who lives in Lewes Road and attends Great Walstead School, will be running the Brighton Marathon Mini Mile under-nine’s race.
It was meant to take place on Saturday, April 18 but has now been rescheduled to September because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “I feel passionate about helping children with special hearts. I am impressed how much people have donated – they have been so generous.”
Charlotte’s heart condition was not picked up until her six-week check, when a GP noticed a heart murmur and referred her to a paediatric cardiologist.
At a check up at the Evelina, Charlotte was diagnosed with a serious heart condition – a coarctation, ventricular septal defect (VSD) and an abnormal mitral valve.
The coarctation was the most urgent problem as left untreated it can lead to heart failure or death.
Three days after being diagnosed, Charlotte had open-heart surgery to fix the problem. Charlotte’s parents Ingrid Marson, 42, and Ian Howard, 42, were devastated at the diagnosis.
Ingrid, Charlotte’s mum, said: “Our world fell apart when Charlotte was diagnosed with a heart condition.
“We went from worrying about feeding issues and sleep, to worrying that she may never wake up from surgery.
“The day we dropped her off for surgery in her baby-sized operating gown was the worst day of my life.
“We then had an agonising six-hour wait while they operated on her.”
The operation was a success and, after a few days in intensive care and a few more days on the cardiac ward, Charlotte was discharged.
She is now an active eight year old, who loves running, gymnastics, swimming and dancing.
She has been training for the Mini Mile by taking part in the Haywards Heath Junior parkrun in Victoria Park.
The family is keen to raise money for ECHO and the Evelina as both charities made a big difference to the family.
Ingrid said: “Without the hard work and talents of the staff at the Evelina, Charlotte wouldn’t be here.
“ECHO made a big difference to us after Charlotte was diagnosed.
“Meeting other families who have children with special hearts, helped us come to terms with what had happened.”
Samantha Johnson, ECHO’s chief executive, said: “I am delighted that Charlotte has chosen to help other children with special hearts by fundraising for ECHO and taking on the Brighton Marathon Mini Mile.
“ECHO are so grateful for Charlotte’s support. We know it will make a massive difference to others in the ECHO heart community who are going through difficult times during diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
“A massive thank you to Charlotte for all your efforts – we hope you have lots of fun.”
Charlotte’s parents said she was delighted with all the donations and messages of support from school friends, family members and friends. More than £2,300 of her £3,000 target has been raised so far.
To donate to Charlotte’s Mini Mile fundraiser, visit virginmoneygiving.com/CharlotteMiniMile.