Father takes on marathon after infant son’s illness

Johnathan Copper was born with Gastroschisis and spent the first 10 weeks of his life in the Royal Victoria Hospital
Johnathan Copper was born with Gastroschisis and spent the first 10 weeks of his life in the Royal Victoria Hospital

BANBRIDGE man Adam Cooper is to run a marathon to raise funds for the charity which helped him through what he has described as ‘the most difficult time of my life.’

Adam’s son Johnathan was born on July 4 last year with Gastroschisis - a condition where the baby’s bowel grows outside of their body - and spent 10 weeks fighting infection in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s neo-natal unit.

Proud dad Adam Cooper with seven-month-old Johnathan.

Proud dad Adam Cooper with seven-month-old Johnathan.

Now a bouncing baby boy at seven months old, Johnathan is described as “bubbly and beautiful” by his adoring dad and mum Catherine. But Adam said the Pseudomonas outbreak last month brought the trauma of his son’s time in hospital back to him, as he recalled the “shivers down his spine” when he heard of the babies that didn’t make it.

“When Johnathan was in hospital he had so many leads and wires going into his little body that made him susceptible to infection,” said Adam, who works as a duty officer within Armagh City Council. “He had septicemia during his time in hospital and even caught a flesh-eating bug just after he was discharged. While he didn’t get Pseudomonas and thankfully was able to battle through those first two months, I got a glimpse of what it’s like to cope with that situation.

“My heart just went out to all those parents whose babies caught the infection, and especially to those whose children didn’t make it. It’s the most awful time of your life, I really felt the emotion of those parents.

Adam, who paid tribute to the staff at the hospital and to Catherine’s parents for their unrelenting support throughout the ordeal, wasn’t able to hold Johnathan until he was a week old - but looking at his son now he said no-one would even suspect he had had to battle for life last July.

“He is bubbly and beautiful,” said Adam. “And that experience made me decide to run the Belfast marathon for TinyLife later this year. Catherine and Johnathan will be cheering me on at the finish line and that will make it all worthwhile.”

Adam aims to raise £1,000 for the charity which he said does crucial work with the parents of sick and premature babies.

“Our experience with Johnathan last year really opened my eyes to the work they do and serivces they offer, from funding incubators to providing emotional support for mums and dads. I would ask anyone who can spare any money to please donate.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/Adam-Cooper1.