5 August 2021

Half marathon for daughter Thea

Ramzi Darghouth, and wife Cheryl welcomed their second child, Thea, on 16 December 2019 at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

“She was born via planned c-section, however she was in an extended breech position (bottom first, with feet up near the head). We were told this happens in a small number of deliveries and nothing to worry about, and thankfully the rest of the birth went well.

The hospital staff checked Thea out after the delivery, and noticed a bit of clicking in her hips, and because she was breech, we were told to expect a check up in a few weeks. It didn’t seem a big deal or alarming at the time.

She was referred for an ultrasound scan at about eight weeks. Days later we received a letter from the Basingstoke orthopaedics team requesting an urgent referral to Southampton Children’s Hospital paediatric orthopaedic specialists.

There they performed an ultrasound and found Thea had a severe form of hip dysplasia on both sides.”

Hip dysplasia is when the bones of the hip joint are not aligned properly, and this can affect thousands of children each year.

“My wife and I were both understandably upset, and the consultants and nurses told us about the treatments she would need over the next few months.

Firstly, Thea was put in a Pavlik harness which is a full body harness to position the legs in an M position so the hips are aligned in the joint and to keep the hips in a stable position. She was due to wear it for a number months.

We had weekly appointments at the hospital’s hip clinic. After a few weeks the doctors were concerned that the harness was causing femoral nerve palsy, which is a type of paralysis, so we stopped the Pavlik harness at just four weeks.

We had weekly appointments at the hospital’s hip clinic. After a few weeks the doctors were concerned that the harness was causing femoral nerve palsy, which is a type of paralysis, so we stopped the Pavlik harness at just four weeks.

The only remaining option was surgery. We were told the best time for the surgery was when she was around one year old, so we had to wait a few months.

Not long after, the first wave of Coronavirus hit. We had to keep coming in to the hip clinics to get Thea ready for her surgery. It was a bit scary seeing the hospital so deserted!

Thea underwent her first operation on 1 December 2020 for her left hip during the peak of the second wave of Coronavirus. This meant that only one parent could stay overnight, so Cheryl stayed with Thea in hospital for just over a week as her legs needed to be in traction for a few days prior to the surgery.

She came home on 4 December with an enormous purple spica cast which covered her whole legs and bulged at the tummy and with a cross bar between her knees. She had to wear that for about six weeks.

Next we moved to a “broomsticks” cast for seven weeks which was a smaller version of the spica but still stabilised the hips for another six weeks. Then we moved to “night splints” which was wearing the cast only at night for another six weeks.

After about four months of cast wearing, on 20 April, Thea went in for surgery to do it all again. This time on the right hip.

Thankfully we are now nearly at the end of this journey in the last cast!

My wife and I are so thankful for everything that the NHS has done for our family which is why I have signed up to run the ABP Southampton half marathon this September.

I only started running nine months ago, so I wanted to pick something challenging, but also that I could still fit in around work. At the moment I have worked up to 10k, but it is scary that within just eight weeks, I need to double that distance!

I am raising money for play equipment within Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Play is so important, especially at a young age. Luckily for us, Thea only had to spend a week or so in hospital. During lockdown it became really apparent how missing out on normal play and socialising was having an impact on children’s well being and development.

What I have never thought about before were the children in hospital for weeks or more at a time, missing out on so much time at school, with friends, or just playing at home. Even as the pandemic hopefully subsides, these children and families will still be there.

Play helps so much with a child’s development, it is so important. You can’t get that lost time back. And so that is my motivation to do the half marathon.”


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