Ko Armagi’s father runs 1,000 miles to donate to the charities that took care of his young son while saving lives.
Burt, the son of Hamilton and Kim Brown, was born with congenital heart disease on March 27, 2021 and spent the first few weeks of his life in treatment at the Royal Belfast Children’s Hospital.
In June 2021, he left for Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for open heart surgery and stayed there for 10 weeks.
Burt was also born without a fully functioning immune system and was treated for it while on Big Ormond Street.
Before Burt received treatment, he and his family had been supported by two local charities, the Children’s Heartbeat Trust and the Heartbeat NI Foundation, and witnessed the incredible work they are doing in Northern Ireland.
Now, to get back into these groups, Hamilton faces a seven-month, Irpino 1,000-mile challenge – the distance from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to Big Ormond Street and back – to say thank you.
Burt’s mother, Kim, said, “We knew he had a heart condition before he was born. She spent a few weeks at Royal and then went to Big Ormond Street for heart surgery.
“It’s only been 10 weeks, he’s come home and he’s fine. Since then, Bertie has been the only person in the hospital for several nights in January with a chest infection.
“Bert is doing very well now, that is the main thing. He always has his heart in his tracks, but we are so glad we missed out on a year and it’s great to be with him at this point.”
Kim added that staff from both hospitals helped ease the family’s difficult journey and they are happy to be back.
He said: “The staff at both hospitals were great and made the journey easier for us, of course we were also in the midst of a pandemic which didn’t really help the situation. The staff were absolutely fantastic.
“When we were on Grand Ormond Street it was amazing how many people we met from Northern Ireland went there for treatment. We were really surprised how many people left here.
“Two great local charities have been. You’ve heard of them, but now we’re only seeing how important their work is. They paid for our trip and provided great emotional support. They called regularly. “The foundation has asked us about our performance, and that means a lot.”
Hamilton, Loughgall’s husband, waited for brighter evenings to start running, and when the family Googled when British Daylight Time began, they were thrilled to see it begin on Sunday, March 27, Burt’s first birthday.
Kim said, “We always said we wanted to do something for those who helped him, and it seemed like when he was a year old we would do something.
“His dad works, but not until this point. He ran the Belfast Marathon every year and ran for fun in his spare time. There were 500 miles to and from Big Ormond Street and back, so he decided to run back and forth almost.”
Within a week of the fundraising announcement, they had already reached 67% of the target amount.
“The response was surprising,” Kim added.
“We just want to thank everyone who has donated so far.
You can donate to the family via the Just Giving link, click here and follow the fundraising journey through Bertie’s Heart Beats on Facebook and Instagram.
I’m an experienced news author and editor based in New York City. I specialize in covering healthcare news stories for Today Times Live, helping to keep readers informed on the latest developments related to the industry. I have a deep understanding of medical topics, including emerging treatments and drugs, the changing laws that regulate healthcare providers, and other matters that affect public health.