Bristol baby had heart surgery when she was four hours old

Meet Bristol’s Eloise Thacker, the “remarkable” little girl who’s severe heart disease inspired her grandfather to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

The now 11-month-old underwent heart surgery when she was four hours old after a 20-week scan detected the congenital disease.

Her remarkable story has inspired many people, including her grandfather, Darren Macken, 55, who lives in Kirby Muxloe, reports LeicestershireLive.

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Darren was taken in by his granddaughter’s story and the condition she has, and decided to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

He has raised more than £14,500 towards a £15,000 target for the charity after completing a 100 mile bike ride to Skegness alongside ten relatives and friends on Saturday, June 26.

Darren said: “Eloise really is a remarkable little girl.

“It was frightening to hear she would have a heart condition and it felt like we were stepping into the unknown.

“But she’s doing amazing, and has had incredible care from Bristol Children’s Hospital along with her family and friends.

“With Eloise having to undergo several operations over her lifetime, I just wanted to do something to give back.

Eloise’s grandfather, Darren Macken, centre, has been inspired by her story is raising money for the British Heart Foundation with family and friends including, from left, Zac Tanner, Darrell Farthing, Wayne Hutchinson, and Dean Macken
(Image: LeicestershireLive)

“Knowing that the BHF funds research into finding better treatments for conditions like Eloise’s, I couldn’t think of a better cause.

“I also lost my dad to heart disease when he was just 59, so I know the devastating impact the condition can have.

“I’ve been absolutely blown away by the support we’ve received so far and it feels incredible to have raised almost £15,000 for the BHF’s life saving research.”

The British Heart Foundation funds vital research into all heart and circulatory diseases, including congenital heart diseases.

Before the charity existed, the majority of babies diagnosed with a severe heart defect in the UK did not survive to their first birthday.

Today, thanks to research, around eight out of ten survive into adulthood.

Hannah Pennock, Fundraising Manager at the BHF, said: “We are so grateful that Darren has chosen to take on this very personal challenge for the BHF, and we are blown away by how much he has managed to raise so far.

“This year, the BHF is marking 60 years of funding pioneering research to save and improve lives. Covid-19 dealt a brutal blow to our work and caused our investment in new research to be cut in half last year. We can only fund this life saving research thanks to the generous support of the public, so in our 60th year, we urgently need more people to help us.”

Though little Eloise has further complex issues including a hole in a her heart and will need further operations as she gets older, she is doing well and enjoying life at her Bristol home with mum, dad, and her older brother, Jackson, aged two.

You can head to Darren’s GoFundMe page if you would like to donate to his fundraiser.

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