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Behind the Evelina London Zip

Posted on Thursday 17th November 2016
London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Roe and his son, Zaki

London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Roe and his son, Zaki.

London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Andy Roe, is showing his appreciation to Evelina London for his son’s treatment by running the first ever zip wire across the Thames to raise funds.

Andy’s son, Zaki, then aged seven, began feeling unwell at the start of the summer holidays in 2013. He complained of headaches, problems with his eyesight and feeling tired. His worried dad took him to A&E where doctors initially thought he had a brain tumour.

Scans revealed that Zaki didn’t have a tumour but instead was suffering from viral encephalitis, a very rare but dangerous infection that causes inflammation of the brain. Zaki became dangerously ill and was placed in intensive care where doctors also discovered that he had a previously undiagnosed condition that caused pressure to build in his brain. Untreated, it could have led to blindness and other serious long-term health issues.

Zaki was transferred to the specialist brain and spine inflammation service at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and placed under the care of Dr Ming Lim, a national expert in this area. Thanks to the care of the whole team, Zaki’s condition has gradually improved over the past three years and he is now drug-free for the first time.

Andy knew that he wanted to give something back for all the care that had been given to Zaki. As part of the London Fire Brigade’s 150th anniversary, London firefighters had been thinking up many ways to celebrate, but Andy had thought of a spectacular way to end the year. He said: “My son might not be alive today if it weren’t for the NHS, especially Evelina London, so I wanted to find a way to thank the remarkable staff at this fantastic hospital. During the many hours I spent by my son’s bedside, I realised that I could use my specialist skills to rig up a zip wire from the roof of the hospital across the Thames and that perhaps people would pay for the chance to speed across it like a firefighter.”

On Friday 2 December, for one day only, a zip wire will stretch across the Thames from the roof of St Thomas’ Hospital to Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament.

Twenty fearless fundraisers, each pledging £50,000 or more, will fly ‘superman style’ across the river at speeds of up to 40mph to raise £1 million for Evelina London. The money raised by the event will go towards building a £2.7 million dedicated Clinical Research Facility at Evelina London. This new facility will allow vital research to improve treatments and cures for numerous conditions including allergies, autism, epilepsy, congenital heart disease and kidney disease.

One lucky Londoner will get the chance to ride the zip wire for free by entering our free competition. Visit Support Evelina where you can make a donation and enter the competition before the closing date of 4pm Tuesday 22 November.