Come rain or shine, Josh Mitchell spent his weekends pounding the parks and pavements around his Kent home in preparation for his first London Marathon. On October 3rd, he conquered the 26.2 mile race to honour his young son, George, and the hospital staff who transformed his life.
George was born with Craniosynostosis, which causes the plates of bone that make up the skull to fuse together before the brain is fully formed. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications which can affect children developmentally and cosmetically.
So, just a few weeks after his first birthday, George underwent eight hours of skull reconstruction surgery at King’s in order to give his brain room to grow.
“That was such a tough time for our little family,” says Josh. “The surgery was successful, but we faced many challenges on an hourly and daily basis from his breathing deteriorating, the morphine not being enough to keep him comfortable and his head becoming very swollen."
"You feel so helpless seeing your child endure so much but George amazed me throughout the whole experience. Being so young and vulnerable you’d think that having such major surgery would have had a lasting impact on him but he just soldiered on through everything."
“If that had been me, I’d have been in hospital for weeks recovering but within five days he was up and running around the hospital. To be honest, he humbles me massively.”
The happy, healthy three-year-old is now fully recovered and requires no further treatment but Josh and his wife Chloe will never forget the care their son received.
“The Neurosurgery department of Dr. Bentley and Dr. Chandler were absolutely amazing from start to finish,” says Josh.
“During our stay at King's we spent time on Lion Ward and in the Thomas Cook Children’s Critical Care Centre unit and all the staff were brilliant and so supportive."
"The staff did so many things for us, like getting Chloe a bed so she could stay next to George throughout the night and get some much-needed rest herself. Some days were devastating but they got us through them and we want to do all we can to thank them for the life changing work they do.”
On October 3rd, Josh was one of four King's College Hospital Charity supporters running for Team King's at the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon.
He raised over £2,400 through a number of events and activities throughout the summer, with support from family and friends and his local football club.
“I’m so pleased to be able to give something back, help raise awareness about George’s condition and tell people just how good the hospital is,” says Josh.
“I play football regularly but I’d never done anything of this scale before. This is a big step up but I followed the London Marathon training guide and built myself up gradually with regular runs.
“George helped with my training too – he’s constantly got me running round the garden after him, and up and down the house!
"He’s such a happy little boy, polite and kind and cheeky too. He’s just amazing.”