Edinburgh family helps charity after baby born with no ability to swallow

A mum who took up running to raise funds for research into her first child’s illness has sparked a mini-fitness revolution in her family.

Monday, 6th May 2019, 6:00 am
Nikki Bowes-Watt with her children. Picture: TSPL

Nikki Bowes-Watt and husband Kenny Watt had just met their first child when they became terrified after she turned blue.

Nikki attempted to breastfeed Evie, now five, but nothing was going down and she turned the colour a few times before medics decided to take her away to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s neonatal intensive care unit for X-rays.

Scans revealed the youngster’s oesophagus was not attached to her stomach meaning she did not have the ability to swallow.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Evie, who was born prematurely weighing 5lb 2oz, was taken away for nine hours leaving Nikki and Kenny, both 43, feeling scared for their daughter’s wellbeing.

Doctors warned them that Evie’s condition was serious and she required surgery which she underwent just two days later after being transferred to the Sick Kids.

It was then that doctors explained to the Willowbrae couple they thought Evie was a ‘TOF/OA baby’ - which stands for Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF) and Oesophageal Atresia (OA).

It is a rare congenital condition of the oesophagus that affects one in every 3,500 babies.

Both parents had lost touch with running following the arrival of Evie, and youngest daughter Alice, two, but Nikki decided to raise awareness for the TOFS charity and signed up for 10 half marathons in a year, starting with last year’s Great North Run.

Nikki completing her first few runs gave Kenny the encouragement he needed to lose weight after reaching 21 stone.

After starting training himself in September, he admits to being a new man by overhauling his diet and exercising six days a week - which has seen him shed six stone - and is now determined to join Nikki for her remaining runs.

“We’re older parents and we decided we need to be around for our kids in the future,” Kenny added.

“We want to raise awareness and as much money to the charity that helped us so much.

“There are so many parents who had been in our position and were passing on their experience and advice to us. This can be something so small from medical questions to just providing emotional support.

“They are always there for you and reassure you that you’re not alone. Now we’re the ones helping people and it’s like having another family

“During the early days we were lost. When you become new parents you have plans like the first night you bring your child home and introducing them to friends and family.

“But we came home alone and it was unbelievably difficult.”

To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NikkitenforTOFS and to find out more about TOF go to www.tofs.org.uk