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Little Ben, two might need your gift of life.

Byline: Sarah Walker Health reporter sarah.walker@eveninggazette.co.uk

A NUNTHORPE mum who ran 13.1 miles to raise funds for a lifesaving children's charity close to her heart is calling for more people to sign the organ donor register.

Ben Arnold, two, was born with a single heart ventricle instead of the normal two, which receive and pump out blood around the body.

He also has dextrocardia, in which the heart points toward the right side of the chest instead of the left.

As a result, he has already had to undergo open heart surgery four times and faces more OPS in the future - including a possible heart transplant.

His plight has inspired mum Rachael, 39, to complete the Great North Run, raising more than PS2,000 for the Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital and Little Hearts Matter.

She is also hoping more people will consider joining the organ donor register.

Rachael, who is married to engineering manager Rob, 35, said: "A transplant has already been talked about for Ben so I would like to promote organ donation. If you could take an organ yourself, why wouldn't you give one?" Rachael said Ben's condition was discovered at her 20-week pregnancy scan.

She said: "They said they couldn't see all the chambers of the heart, but the consultant was off at that time so we didn't actually see a specialist for four or five days, which was pretty tough.

"When we saw him he said it was a single ventricle heart which was also facing the other way."

Rachael was referred to the foetal medicine department of the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and made an extra special effort to stay fit and healthy during her pregnancy.

It paid off as Ben was born a healthy 9lbs.

Rachael said: "When he was born he was very well and didn't need any surgery until he was seven months old. But then we had a few complications after that surgery when he developed something called Chylothorax, which is basically an accumulation of fluid around the lungs and his heart.

"Over three months he had three or four lots of open heart surgery."

Ben was finally discharged from the Freeman last April, after spending three months there.

He is thriving and attends Parkway Nursery two mornings a week. However, his family is all too aware he faces an uncertain future.

Rachael said: "CHUF have supported us massively and I will be giving 75% of the money from the Great North Run to them and 25% to Little Hearts Matter.

"Little Hearts Matter gave us the ante-natal facts and I was able to speak to a parent and ask them all the questions you might feel silly asking a medical practitioner through them. They are both brilliant charities."

Rachael's fundraising page is at www.virginmoneygiving.com/rachaelarnold

CAPTION(S):

Rachael Arnold ran the Great North Run in support of the Children's Heart Unit Fund after the treatment son Ben, two, pictured with her far left, received. Ben, below left, may need a heart transplant one day and Rachael wants more people to sign up to the organ donor register

120913RUN_02 PETER REIMANN
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 20, 2013
Words:534
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