Walking an incredible 42 miles for Ruby Ray
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
ALISON Campbell and her merry band of supporters walked a mammoth 42 miles from Annalong to Armagh at the weekend.
The challenging trek with 15 others was to raise funds for the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children that were so supportive during her beloved daughter's health battles.
The sponsored walk was organised by Alison and husband Jonny, from Annalong, to support the units that cared for their little girl Ruby Ray who was born four weeks early last year.
Ruby, who is turning one on 12 April, was born in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, weighing just 4lbs 11 ounces.
Shortly after Ruby was born she was diagnosed with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) a gastrointestinal disease which can affect premature babies. She was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast.
It was here where Ruby was treated with antibiotics and Total Parental Nutrition (TPN) and was fed through a drip.
Speaking about seeing her daughter so ill, Alison said: "Little Ruby Ray was a very sick baby and we went through many ups and downs, before eventually building up the strength and feeding well enough to come home on Monday, 2 May, 2011."
However, once again, Ruby was treated for NEC and went through many tests and scans to try and work out what the problem was as Alison says there was no real evidence of the condition.
On 6 June Ruby deteriorated so much that the surgeon recommended surgery to try and find the source of the problem.
“After an overnight blood transfusion, Ruby was taken to theatre and emerged four hours later, having had part of her bowel removed," Alison said.
After the operation, brave Ruby Ray started to make gradual improvements and Alison says the family has never looked back since her operation last year, adding: "She is developing like any other baby of her age and continues to make her parents smile every day, she is our little miracle."
Praising the doctors and nurses for their excellent work in helping to save the life of their precious daughter, Alison said: "The staff do a fantastic job under great pressure, and without the dedication of the doctors and nurses in both the NICU and RBHSC Ruby Ray might not be here today."
With around 15 people taking part in the event, half of the walk took place on Saturday and continued the rest of the day on Sunday.
Since Alison is pregnant again with their second child, this would have been too strenuous for her to do the walk on one day, and Jonny will be at home looking after little Ruby.
Jonny says there has been so much support with people from the area, along with added encouragement from friends and relatives taking part in the ramble.
Speaking about the fundraising, Jonny says Alison has done so much work ahead of the walk and admits he has also gathered up bits and pieces along the way.
He said: "We have been in touch with the hospital and said we will try and do as much as we can, a lot of the kids there are different ages, so there is a lot we could do to provide for them."
Nearly a year on from her operation, Jonny says: "Ruby is now doing fantastic, she's flying, she is a year old on 12 April and we will be planning to have a big party and celebrations planned and my sister is even coming home from America."
Jonny says that before the big ramble, himself and Alison have been pulling out all the stops to gather in as much money as possible, and are so grateful for the support and kindness people in the community have offered.
He also only has praise for the staff and facilities at the Royal Hospital: "The hospitals have been getting a lot of bad press recently, but in our case they helped Ruby so much and they were absolutely brilliant to us."
With Ruby now developing like any other baby her age, and progressing more and more everyday, Alison says: "We have never looked back and are so thankful to all of the staff."
The money raised will provide games and toys for the Allen Ward at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and the proceeds will be split with the neonatal care unit.
Although the walk took place last Saturday, it is not too late to donate to 'Ruby Ray's Ramble' by leaving a contribution into Annalong Pharmacy or Kilkeel's Poundworld, which will be available until the end of April.
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