My younger brother Jack is just like any other 19 year old. He goes to the gym, plays football, spends too long on his hair and eats just about everything in sight if it isn’t tied down or labelled “NOT FOR JACK!” , even then there is a slim chance my food will still be there when I get in from work. He also studies sport and aspires to go to university with a view to become a PE teacher. Pretty standard stuff, however Jack’s life didn’t start off like any other little boy…

Jack was born with a rare and complex heart condition and by the age of 5 had undergone 3 major heart surgeries at The Royal Brompton Hospital in London, the first one when he was only two days old! Jack spent the majority of his first precious years either very poorly at home, barely able to climb the stairs without becoming breathless, or in a hospital.

The Royal Brompton is a specialist hospital for people with heart and lung disease. The operations carried out on Jack were complex and challenging even for the most experienced doctors and surgeons and he developed a number of post-operative complications. He suffered a cardiac arrest and developed a serious clot on his lungs. A surgeon came out in the middle of the night, still in his slippers to remove this clot and essentially to keep him alive. The care and treatment Jack received whilst at The Royal Brompton was absolutely first class and the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the hospital are absolutely amazing.It is thanks to them that Jack is able to enjoy his life to the full and participate in all the activities and opportunities available to him.

Despite the complications, all of Jacks operations were successful and even though he only has half of a ‘standard’ working heart, he is the most loving, kind and gentle 19 year old boy I have ever met!

In March 2018, my dad and I will be running the London Landmarks Half Marathon in aid of The Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity. The work that these doctors and nurses do is outstanding and our family is forever grateful for all of their hard work and dedication during a very dark time in all of our lives.

Natalia Shuttlewood