Brave Joseph steps out

Mum Kirsty Atkinson is running a 5k course with her son Joseph who had open heart surgery when he was just five-months-old after being born with a congenital heart defect
Mum Kirsty Atkinson is running a 5k course with her son Joseph who had open heart surgery when he was just five-months-old after being born with a congenital heart defect
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It’ll be high fives all round when a boy who underwent open heart surgery at just five-months-old completes a 5k challenge for a cardiac charity.

As a tiny baby Joseph Walsh underwent the operation after being born with a congenital heart defect.

For mum Kirsty Atkinson, 44, it came after her own dad John died from a heart attack at 72, the year before Joseph was born.

The brave family have battled through, since Joseph struggled to gain weight as a newborn and was found to have a hole in his heart, with surgery finding a further two defects in his heart.

After 10 days in hospital the youngster, now a pupil at Roseacre Primary Academy, South Shore, made a quick recovery and today only the scar on his chest would show what he went through as a tot.

Now he and his mother, from South Shore, are setting out to raise money for a heart charity with a 5k run around Stanley Park.

She said: “This is the first event of this type I have taken part in. I’m certainly not a runner but I’m happy that Joseph and I can do this together. It’s going to be more of a bimble than a sprint but it’s about taking part.

“If we can raise some money and also raise awareness of congenital heart defects (CHD), then that’s even better.

“The fact so much research has been done by charities into CHD, this is showing our gratitude to those organisations.”

The pair will be raising money for Heart Research UK when they take on the Subway Helping Hearts Family 5K at Stanley Park on Sunday.

And Kirsty, a project manager for Hewlett Packard, hopes to raise awareness of CHD too.

She added: “Before I had Joseph I knew nothing about CHD, and I’m sure most people don’t know just how common it is – in the UK 1 in 180 babies are born with a CHD and quite often they go undetected.”

The run is part of Subway and Heart Research UK’s efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles and is open to all ages and abilities, with participants invited to run, walk or push their way around the course.

Children under 12 can go for free and early bird registrations for the rest of the family are just £5.99 each, with participants earning a free Subway.

To sponsor Kirsty and Joe, visit: www.justgiving.com/Kirsty-and-Joe