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Oliver’s story: “We need to get him to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as soon as possible.”

dad Rob sat with son oliver in woodland with trees and sitting in tree chairs
29 March 2022

When Oliver Simpson from Worksop went home for the first time at three days old in 2014, his parents knew something wasn’t right.

His dad Rob, recalls: “We initially contacted our local hospital and then our community midwife came out to us. Oliver then started vomiting so we took him into our local hospital again. That’s when they told us: “He’s a very poorly baby, we need to get him to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as soon as possible.”

Oliver was then moved to a transport bed and incubator, provided with oxygen and other medication before being taken to Sheffield Children’s by the Embrace Ambulance Service. Embrace is a highly specialist, round-the-clock transport service for critically ill infants and children in Yorkshire and the Humber who require care in another hospital.

Once the family arrived at Sheffield Children’s, Oliver was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He was placed on a drip to fight an infection, rehydrate him, and improve his weight.

Dad Rob continues: “Once we were at Sheffield Children’s, the severity of the situation became real but immediately there was an organised plan in place to give Oliver the best chance possible. They were difficult days, but once we had a diagnosis, we could focus on how the issue could be addressed and, in that sense, it was a huge relief.

Oliver was subsequently diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease, which is a rare condition where the nerves which control movement in the bowels are missing. This can cause severe constipation and lead to serious infection if it is not identified and treated early.

He would spend the next twenty days receiving care on the Neonatal Surgical Unit (NSU) and the following month, underwent surgery to remove around five inches of damaged bowel and reconnect the functioning nerve endings.

Dad Rob continues: “The main thing I remember is the speed at which everything happened once we were admitted but also how calming it all was. Everyone knew exactly what needed to be done, who would do it and how to get it started.

This continued throughout his care at Sheffield Children’s- from start to finish, everything was explained to us in detail, and we felt included every step of the way.

“In the months after we were discharged, we had a number of follow up visits to check on Oliver’s progress, and we made a point of visiting the nurses and staff who helped with his recovery. We will remain forever grateful for the medical care the staff gave Oliver at Sheffield Children’s, but also the behind-the-scenes support we received helping us cope with the situation as a family.”

In the years that followed, Oliver had five rounds of Botox injections to help relax his muscles and allow his bowels to function normally. He continues to take daily medication and remains under the care of Sheffield Children’s, although his check-ups are now once a year.

Dad Rob continues: “Oliver today is seven and a very active child, he never sits still! He loves anything outdoors, including football, cricket, biking and most other sports. He enjoys family walks and coming with me to the trails at Sherwood Pines. The condition and the surgery certainly haven’t held him back in any way, and that’s thanks to Sheffield Children’s.”

To say thank you for Oliver’s ongoing care, dad Rob signed up to take on the Sheffield Half Marathon on Sunday 27 March. However, six months ago when he turned 40, the possibility of being able to run such a distance seemed remote:

Rob adds: “I used to be quite active but since having children I haven’t had the time to get out as much and as a result, I put on around five stone in weight. When I turned 40 last year, I realised I needed to get myself back in shape before it got too far.

“If anyone is considering taking on a new challenge, I would advise them to just go for it – you only ever regret the things you don’t do in life. It’s hard at first, but it does get easier, and you are in control of it.

“I last ran the half marathon more than a decade ago but although I am older now, I am definitely at my peak fitness wise. I think the hardest part of the Sheffield Half Marathon is going to be the hills for me! The training I am currently doing is in Nottinghamshire, which is flat, so it will be a challenge.

“The one thing I remember most about the Sheffield Half is the atmosphere being amazing, and how that carries a lot of runners. It’s that feeling of support which will carry me through. Oliver understands what I am doing and how it’s good that I’m raising money for the hospital.

“He said he’s proud of me for doing it, that I’m doing well with my running and that he loves me and that’s all any father needs to know.”

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