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Marathon dad thanks Evelina London for saving newborn daughter's life

Posted on Tuesday 23rd April 2019
A mum and dad each pictured holding their baby

Tom and Rebecca each with baby Isabelle

Tom Golding is celebrating his daughter’s first birthday by running the London Marathon to thank Evelina London for saving her life.

Isabelle Golding was born on 28 April 2018 but when she was taken home later that day her parents noticed she was lethargic and had saliva bubbling around her mouth.

Tom and Rebecca, from Sidcup in south east London, took their one day old daughter to the local hospital where an X-ray revealed she had trache-oesophageal fistula and oesophageal atresia. These rare birth defects affect a baby's oesophagus (food pipe) and trachea (airway) and can be life-threatening.

Rebecca, 32, said: “We didn’t know it at the time, but Isabelle was becoming really weak because she hadn’t slept and milk and saliva was going straight to her lungs, which meant she was basically drowning.

“Once the X-ray confirmed the rare condition we were told she’d need major surgery by a specialist surgeon.”

Isabelle was rushed to our paediatric intensive care unit by the South Thames Retrieval Service. She was put on a ventilator and had emergency surgery the following day.

Mr Iain Yardley, consultant paediatric and neonatal surgeon, said: “Isabelle was very sick when she arrived. Babies born with these rare birth defects are not able to swallow safely, if at all, without complex life-saving surgery. A huge team of specialists have been involved in Isabelle’s treatment and we’ll continue caring for her until she’s 18 years old.”

Rebecca, a science teacher, said: “To look at Isabelle you would never know there is something wrong but it’s been a very bumpy road. She’s been in and out of hospital and will need further surgery because her oesophagus still isn’t working properly.

“I do have days where I feel sad for her because so much is still unknown, but I know it could have been a lot worse and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone at Evelina London because she wouldn’t be here today without them.

“She’s probably cost the hospital hundreds of thousands of pounds so this is our way of giving something back.”

Tom is taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 28 April, which falls on Isabelle's first birthday. Rebecca originally signed up but transferred her place to Tom when the couple found out they were expecting their second child.

Tom, a PE teacher, said: “It goes without saying that our story could have had a very different ending if it wasn't for the unbelievable treatment and care that Isabelle continues to receive – every single member of staff at that hospital is an angel in disguise.

“Our story is just one of many that happen every single day so every penny that is donated will help other parents and children get through some of their worst days.

“This is not only a great way for us to celebrate Isabelle’s first birthday, but also an opportunity to mark Evelina London’s 150th anniversary.”

Tom, 29, who has been training three times a week, said: “To be honest I’m dreading it because, although I love sport, I don’t like long distance running. But I’m taking it very seriously and my aim is to beat my friend’s time from last year.”

Mr Iain Yardley, continued: “Evelina London has changed the lives of children and young people for 150 years. It’s thanks to fundraisers like Tom and Rebecca that we’re able to continue caring for the sickest children, with the most complex conditions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

To help Tom and Rebecca reach their fundraising target, visit:

Our Evelina 150 Stories

This article is part of a series of Evelina 150 Stories that we are sharing in celebration of our special 150th anniversary year.

150 years ago, Evelina London was born out of love, when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild founded the hospital in memory of his wife, Evelina. Since 1869, we've been saving lives, improving health and inspiring better futures. 

Find out more about how we are marking our special birthday: