Grateful Alex takes on run to thank Sheffield hospital

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A TEENAGER from Sheffield is lacing up his running shoes to thank city doctors and nurses who cured him of a chronic stomach condition.

Alex Harding, aged 19, from Worrall, was one of the first patients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to receive an innovative treatment for severe acid reflux, which caused him agonising daily pain.

Now Alex, a science student at Hallam University, has signed up to run the Sheffield Half Marathon in May, to raise money for the children’s hospital’s charity fund.

And by registering he has followed in the footsteps of his mum Bernie, 47, who ran last year and collected more than £200.

Alex said he began experiencing stomach problems aged 12, feeling a burning pain in his throat after eating.

“Sometimes I’d not be able to do anything for about two hours because it hurt so badly,” he added.

“It gradually got worse to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night, and that’s when I was referred to a specialist at the children’s hospital.”

Doctors diagnosed Alex with chronic acid reflux, where stomach acids rise up into the oesophagus – the tube between the throat and stomach - because the valve separating them does not work properly.

In 2008, surgeons operated on the teen by performing a procedure in which a device is extended through the mouth into a patient’s stomach.

Doctors then use the device to fasten a fold in the stomach tissues, creating a tight valve which stops acid from escaping.

Previous techniques were more invasive and involved cutting into the stomach, instead of operating through the mouth.

“The operation made such a massive difference to my life,” said Alex.

“Before I had it, I was in a huge amount of pain every day, but afterwards the pain completely disappeared. I felt perfect.

“I realise now that I was quite lucky, and that’s why I decided to give something back by doing some fundraising.”

Alex will be running as part of the charity’s Run with Us campaign, which was launched in 2012 and is supported by Sheffield Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis.

All the money raised this year will go towards the hospital’s Make It Better appeal, which aims to raise half of the cost of a planned £40 million redevelopment scheme at the site.

Visit www.tchc.org.uk/run for information or to sign up.