Dad thanks Evelina London for daughter's pioneering treatment

Posted on Wednesday 26th September 2018
Sophie Miles receiving life-changing brain cooling treatment and Sophie on her first day of school

Sophie Miles receiving treatment at Evelina London as a baby and on her first day of school

A father is competing in an ‘urban triathlon’ to thank Evelina London after his daughter received a cutting-edge treatment to prevent brain damage.

Taking part in Guy’s Urban Challenge on his daughter Sophie’s fifth birthday, Ben Miles, 37, from Claygate in Surrey is raising funds for Evelina London.

Ben and his wife, Emma, had been told that Sophie could be brain damaged after she suffered a loss of oxygen in the womb due to a rare condition called fetal maternal haemorrhage, which restricts blood flow to the baby. 

Ben said: “My wife was 35 weeks pregnant when she noticed that Sophie had stopped moving. We knew that lack of fetal movement can be a sign of a serious problem so we went straight to our local hospital. The doctors were very concerned so Sophie was delivered by an emergency caesarean that same day. When she was born she was very ill and the doctors feared that she had suffered serious brain damage. It was an extremely difficult time.”

Sophie was immediately transferred to Evelina London’s neonatal intensive care unit where she received an innovative treatment known as hypothermic neural rescue, the treatment aims to prevent long-term damage to the brain by cooling the body.

During the treatment, which requires advanced intensive care, the body is cooled from 37 degrees to around 33 or 34 degrees using a water-cooled jacket for three days. This stops brain cells that have been deprived of oxygen from dying.

Ben added: “We hadn’t heard of this treatment before but we really believe it prevented her from developing permanent brain damage. She has shown no signs of long-term developmental delay and is now a very happy, bubbly four-year-old schoolgirl who loves dressing up as Disney princesses. You would never know that she had such a difficult start in life.

“We feel that the treatment she received at Evelina London has completely changed her quality of life. We feel very lucky and eternally grateful to the hospital’s staff. We really couldn’t thank them enough.

“Taking part in the event is my way of saying thank you to the amazing staff who looked after Sophie. She will turn five on the day of the challenge and will be there with my wife cheering me on, so the day will feel extra special.”

Professor David Edwards, consultant neonatologist at Evelina London and director of the Centre for the Developing Brain in King’s College London, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Sophie is doing well and Ben has chosen to raise vital funds for us.

“Hypothermic neural rescue is the only available medical intervention that can help to prevent serious disabilities and even death in babies who have suffered a loss of oxygen in the womb or during their birth.

“Our research group spent 20 years developing this treatment, beginning in the laboratory and moving to large collaborative trials in patients. It is now in use across the world, and the NHS has developed a system to allow babies who need it to be moved to specialist neonatal intensive care centres which have the skills and equipment to provide it, like Evelina London. This is essential because treatment has to be started within six hours of birth and requires full intensive care with very skilled nursing.

“Our research shows that hypothermic neural rescue therapy doubles the chance that affected babies will grow up to live healthy lives, free from life-changing disabilities. We are continuing to undertake research to maximise the benefits of treatment.”

Guy’s Urban Challenge takes place on Saturday 29 September and involves a 2.4km run in the streets surrounding Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, followed by a 15km cycle on exercise bikes, and a 29 floor stair climb up to the top of Guy’s Tower.

You can support Ben's fundraising by visiting his dedicated fundraising page 'Sophie's Urban Challenge'.