Dad Chris cycles to Paris to thank hospital staff who saved his daughter’s life

April 29 2018
Dad Chris cycles to Paris to  thank hospital staff who saved his daughter’s life

A devoted dad is saying thank you to hospital staff who saved his daughter’s life by cycling from Bristol to Paris.

Chris Dean, from Southville, will be cycling 430km to the French capital, leaving Ashton Court on Friday May 4, along with a group of almost 60 cyclists.

The ride is organised by Above & Beyond, the charity for Bristol’s nine city centre hospitals, and the money raised will go towards a new 3D ultrasound scanner for St Michael’s Hospital.

Chris’s daughter Imogen, who is just eight months old, was saved by staff at the hospital before she was born.

Chris said: “Imogen's condition was spotted because her heart was very enlarged when we went for a routine 20-week scan. We saw a heart specialist that day, who referred us to the fetal medicine team right away.”

“The wait to learn what was wrong with Imogen was agonising, but once we did, everything seemed to happen very quickly.

“The doctors quickly diagnosed fetal anaemia, and performed a blood transfusion by inserting a needle through my wife Cath’s stomach and into a tiny vein in Imogen’s tummy, guided by images on the ultrasound scanner.”

Fetal anaemia is an inadequate number or quality of red blood cells in the unborn baby. It can lead to many complications and when the condition is severe, the heart tries to overcome it by pumping harder, which can lead to fetal heart failure.

Imogen had the transfusion when Cath was just 21 weeks into her pregnancy.

Chris said: “All the team stayed late to do the transfusion so we knew it was pretty serious. Imogen was so small and it seems incredible to me that they managed to get a needle and blood into her tiny body.

“It was a really nerve-wracking time, especially the few days after the transfusion as we had no idea how Imogen would take it. Even after then there were lots and lots of follow up scans and appointments to monitor the situation, so we continued to be really worried for a long time, but the doctors and midwives were unbelievably supportive throughout.”

 Imogen was born last September to the relief of Chris and Cath. “Meeting Imogen for the first time was a wonderful experience. She came out crying and was given to Cath for a cuddle immediately,” said dad Chris.

“I felt so relieved that she was finally in the outside world and with us after we'd come so close to losing her. She’s growing up to be a very happy little girl, and we’ll always be incredibly grateful to the wonderful team at St Michael’s.”

Now Chris will take on the ride to Paris – cycling 430km in just four days. The consultant who performed the transfusion, Tim Overton, is also taking part in this year’s challenge – on the back of a tandem!

The state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound scanner will provide greater diagnostic accuracy for fetal imagery, vital for conducting life-saving in-utero procedures like Imogen’s transfusion.

Chris said: “I’m really excited about the ride. I'm looking forward to seeing some of France from a bike and I can't wait to see the Eiffel Tower on the horizon.

“I'm a keen cyclist, but I've never done back to back rides of this sort of length before so I just hope that my legs hold out!”

Amy Barnard-Smith, community fundraising officer for Above & Beyond, said: “It’s fantastic to have Chris on the ride this year.

“I’m taking part in the ride and I know that hearing stories like Chris, Cath and Imogen’s really motivate us to keep going.

“It’s only thanks to the support of our fundraisers that we can continue to go above and beyond for Bristol’s hospitals. Every penny really does count and the 3D scanner will be invaluable to St Michael’s Hospital.”

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