Parent’s Story- Lee & April- Great North Run Special


One of our wonderful supporters Lee is taking on the GNR 2021 along with 150 other Tiny Lives Runners and thousands of runners taking part in the GNR on 12th September 2021. 

Here’s Lee and April’s story on why they are supporting Tiny Lives:-


Reuben’s Story

“On 6.12.2019 we brought Reuben into the world. Reuben was born with a Left Sided Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Our care was transferred from Durham hospital to the RVI for further checks following our 19 week scan, where the diagnosis was confirmed. After weekly scans we found out that Reubens case was severe and he was only given 30% chance of survival following an MRI scan. At 28weeks we travelled to London after being referred to Kings College Hospital in hope of being accepted onto a trial for FETO where we were told after a consultation that this was not possible. At 37 weeks, Mam (April) was taken in for extra caution due to Polyhydramnios and an Induction was booked for two days later. After a 48hour labour we finally welcomed Reuben to the world. The room was full of so many doctors/midwives/nurses/neonatal team when Reuben was born and he was taken straight to the neonatal ward where we finally got to see him a couple of hours later. Reuben was on the high flow machine and endless medication to try and make him better but everything the neonatal team tried they couldn’t help him enough. The Freeman team visited Reuben to see if he could be transferred to their hospital so he could be put on the ECMO machine but he was too poorly to travel. We had family to visit the day Reuben was born and we had him baptised in the neonatal ward… although this was not what we ever wished for, the staff made this as special as they could for us. In the early hours of 7.12.2019 we were told to come and see Reuben as he had turned a corner for the worst. We sat with Reuben and the consultant told us that he was going to pass away that day and they had tried everything that they could. We will never forget that moment and our hearts were instantly broken. We spent the morning with Reuben and the staff helped us move him to the bereavement room where we had our own time with him and finally got the cuddles that we always wanted with him. Together we made the decision that no parents ever want to and we decided to let Reuben come off the machines and he peacefully passed away in our arms. The staff on the neonatal ward were so comforting and they gave us as much time as we wanted with him, they allowed us to bath him, take family photos with him and they allowed our families to come and grieve with us. We had to stay on the antenatal ward for that night and Reuben stayed with in a cuddle cot provided by Tiny Lives”. 

“We have since been back and spoke about our time with one of the consultants and he reassured us about everything that happened over the 24hours we spent on the ward with Reuben”.



Oliver’s Story

“On 25.5.2021 to our joy our second born son Oliver was born at Durham hospital by C-Section, and two hours after birth he developed some problems with his breathing. He was taken for checks by the Neonatal team and was put onto CPAP in Durham. After 48 hours Durham had to transfer Oliver’s care to the RVI as they did not have the facility to carry on his care. The RVI neonatal team came to assess Reuben and they transported him in a special travel incubator which is funded by Tiny Lives. They gave Oliver his mini boo and we next saw him on ward 35. This was both a daunting experience and also a comforting experience for us as we were back in the ward where we lost our first born in Reuben but also we knew that Oliver was in the best hands. He started off on the Red section for the Thursday and Friday and by the Saturday he was in the Blue section and off the CPAP and breathing on his own. We have never been so happy to see him with no wires connected to him. We were happy to see the consultants that had worked previously with Reuben and that they knew our past history and remembered us which helped us a lot. The girls on the ward were amazing, they gave us time to have skin to skin, they taught us how to do his checks and they were always there to help at any time. The RVI were amazing, especially during COVID they allowed me to stay with April on the post-natal ward due to our past experiences and we couldn’t thank them enough. Oliver was discharged on the Monday after spending a night on the ward with us and he is now thriving at 14 weeks old”. 

Tiny Lives Support

“Tiny Lives supported us in so many ways, both on the Unit and after we came home. We received Miniboo comforters for both Reuben and Oliver, to which we still use one now. There was many refreshments and food on the ward to help us get through each day when needed. On both occasions we received a parent pack with little goodies including cups, toothpaste, toothbrush, mints and a book to read with both of our boys”.

“We are so grateful for having pictures of Reuben taken with us as we cherish them so much”.

“For Oliver we had breast milk stored on the unit which was readily available and warmed up as soon as we asked for it”.

Our support to Tiny Lives

Since Reubens passing

  • Two of our best friends have raised money by offering their wedding favours to Tiny Lives by personally giving Tiny Lives £150
  • Another of our best friends Jon has completed a charity 500mile walk in one month in Reubens name for Tiny Lives where he raised over £3000, during this challenge we walked from our family home in South Hetton, Durham to the RVI (approx 21miles) this is now going to be an annual event for us and our next walk will be Sunday Sept 26th 2021 and we have named ourselves “Reubens Walkers”.
  • I am also going to complete the Great North Run on 12th Sept 2021 for Tiny Lives where I have already raised over £1500 and sponsors are still coming in.