A grateful father from Rotherham is set to take on Peru’s Inca Trail trek next September to thank Sheffield Children’s Hospital for his daughter’s life-saving care.
In September 2018, Rob Henderson’s twin daughters Sophie and Jessica were born in Bradford, at just 28 weeks old.
As a result, both suffered significant complications, and after just 15 days, Jessica sadly passed away.
Sophie on the other hand coped well - but initially struggled to feed.
An infection, known as Necrotizing Enterocoliticis (NEC) was soon diagnosed, which attacks part of the bowel.
After a two-month stay on the Neonatal Surgical Unit (NSU) at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, the family were able to spend Christmas at home, but their stay did not last long.
In January, Sophie’s small intestine became twisted which meant she required further surgery and returned to Sheffield Children’s Hospital on Ward 1 for another six months.
Reflecting on their time at Sheffield Children’s, Rob, 33, from Rotherham explained: “We got to know the staff really, really well.
"They became our safety net.
"You’re never just a number to them- they genuinely care about the wellbeing of not just the children but their parents too.
“The treatment Sophie received motivated me to do anything I could to help the hospital. She’s lived on the ward longer than anywhere else, and as a family we’ve thought for ages about what we could do”.
The Children’s Hospital Charity then launched their latest overseas challenge, a trek through the Inca Trail in Peru.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it is often said to be the most important archaeological find.
It encompasses three high mountain passes, with the highest peaking at 4,200m.
It leads through the famed Sun Gate and into the ruins of Machu Picchu, a 15th-century citadel.
For Geography teacher Rob, the challenge also represents an opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream.
“When I started teaching, I remember putting up a display on the classroom wall of the wonders of the world and Machu Picchu was the one I’d never really thought about.
"I started researching it and the fascination began there.
“With Sophie’s care, I honestly thought it would be something I’d never get to see, so when I saw The Children’s Hospital Charity were organising a trek, I just thought I’d love to go.
"I’m really excited about the challenge, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it sounds strange but I’m really proud of myself for signing up.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. I once agreed to do a 10K run but injured myself and my mum had to do it for me! It’s possible I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but I’ll do it because after what Sophie has been through, I can’t complain.”
Sophie’s Mum Jennie, 30 added “Sophie and I will really miss him whilst he’s away doing the trek, but it’s so nice that as a family we get to give something back.
"I’ve helped Rob as much as I can with the fundraising and it’s so nice to know that our efforts will be going towards such a good cause.”
Thanks to the care she received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sophie is now back at home with her parents and has gone from strength-to-strength, recently celebrating her first birthday.
Cheryl Davidson, Events Fundraising Manager at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It’s so heartwarming to hear that in addition to juggling Sophie’s care and his work, Rob is now dedicating himself to support The Children’s Hospital Charity.
“Our first overseas challenge, a Kilimanjaro trek last month, raised over £100,000 and we’re determined to raise even more this time. There are just twenty places on this trip and places are first come, first serve and the deadline is 18th December so don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”