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Mum treks Sahara for Whitechapel’s Sick Children’s Trust after her baby is born 16 weeks premature

PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 09 June 2020

Smaller than his teddy... a tiny Reggie weighing just 23oz at birth. Picture: Sick Children's Fund

Smaller than his teddy... a tiny Reggie weighing just 23oz at birth. Picture: Sick Children's Fund

Sick Children's Fund

A mum is taking on a gruelling trek under the sun across the Sahara desert to raise funds for the children’s charity in Whitechapel that gave her a place to stay when her son was born 16 weeks prematurely weighing less than a 2lb bag of sugar.

Mikaela and Dave can only look at tiny Reggie in his incubator. Picture: Sick Children's FundMikaela and Dave can only look at tiny Reggie in his incubator. Picture: Sick Children's Fund

Mikaela Cox unexpectedly went into labour giving birth to little Reggie at the Royal London Hospital.

The tiny 23oz bundle had to be wrapped in a plastic bag to keep warm and put in a ventilator while doctors stabilised him.

Mikaela, ironically a nurse at Great Ormond Street children’s hospital at the time, and partner Dave, a chef, didn’t get to see Reggie until nine hours later — and even then couldn’t touch him for another 30 days!

“We nearly lost him,” Mikaela recalls. “Reggie was putting on weight, but one day out of nowhere we got a call saying he’d took a turn for the worse.

At last... Mikaela and Dave can hold tiny Reggie at the Royal London after 30 days. Picture: Sick Children's FundAt last... Mikaela and Dave can hold tiny Reggie at the Royal London after 30 days. Picture: Sick Children's Fund

“Everything changed from that moment. I knew a bit about what to expect, being a nurse at Gt Ormond Street, but it was hard for Dave.”

They were living at East Ham, several stops from Whitechapel, but that’s when the Sick Children’s Trust stepped in and provided them with accommodation.

The charity put them up free at their Stevenson House “home from home” centre close to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit where Reggie was being treated.

“This changed everything,” Mikaela remembers. “We had a place to stay close by where we could cook meals, clean Reggie’s clothes and spend time with our family away from the hospital.

Strapping toddler Reggie Cox today... with rainbow trousers that say 'thanks' to the NHS. Picture: Sick Children's FundStrapping toddler Reggie Cox today... with rainbow trousers that say 'thanks' to the NHS. Picture: Sick Children's Fund

“We were made welcome by other families staying at Stevenson House who were going through the same thing as us. It took everything off our plate so that we could just focus on Reggie.”

Mikaela, with Reggie now grown into a strapping four-year-old toddler, is taking on a gruelling 70-mile trek across the Sahara to raise funds for the charity to help families with sick children in hospital.

“The Sahara is a tough challenge,” the 29-year-old accepts. “But I’m doing it for Reggie to help more families.”

The Sick Children’s Trust relies entirely on public donations to give families a place to stay in one of its 10 “home from home” centres.

Wellwishers can support Mikaela’s Sahara trek for the charity on her Just Giving page.


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