THE parents of a Sheffield toddler who spent most of the first year of his life in Sheffield Children’s Hospital are stepping out for a charity walk alongside the surgeon who helped save their son’s life.
Laura Cartwright and Barry Whitlam, from Handsworth, will be taking on The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Peaks’ Peaks challenge from Edale to Torside on Sunday, which covers 15 miles and the four highest hills in the Peak District.
Their 23-month-old son Carter Whitlam, who was born with a diaphragmatic hernia in July 2010, is the inspiration behind their trek.
His condition meant he had only one fully formed lung and the other was very small.
Three days later he was transferred to the Children’s Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery on his diaphragm, stomach and bowel that saved his life.
Sean Marven, one of three surgeons who were involved in the operation, will also be taking on the Peaks’ Peaks challenge with Barry and Laura and nine others in Team Carter.
Laura, 29, said: “We can’t thank Mr Marven enough for what he has done for Carter and we are delighted he will be joining us on the Peaks’ Peaks challenge.
“The Children’s Hospital gave us our son. Without the hospital he wouldn’t have reached his first birthday never mind his second. The staff never gave up even when things seemed impossible.
“They became our family. We still see them now and can’t go to a check- up without calling in to see everyone on the wards he stayed on. It’s like a full day’s outing, but a great outing seeing the people who made his life possible.”
Barry, 31, said: “Carter is doing brilliantly now. To look at him you would never think he’d had such a tough start to life.
“He’s always happy and laughing and loves football, playing with his sister and dancing to The Wheels on the Bus! I am amazed by him and his courage and determination.
“Although I am not looking forward to the 15 miles of the challenge, what Carter went through will always give me the determination to succeed. I just hope people get behind us and show their support for the charity, because you never know when you might need the hospital for your own children, or a child close to you.”
Mr Marven said he was ‘delighted’ to be joining Barry and Laura, and added: “It’s fantastic to see Carter looking so well after all that he has been through.
“He was always a very determined little boy and following his last operation he amazed us all by how soon he recovered.
“My work has greatly benefited from the work of the charity and taking part in this walk is my way of giving something back.”
n Visit www.justgiving.com/team-carter to sponsor Barry and Laura.