Dad to walk the 171 miles taken by his son in life-saving ambulance dash

A father is walking 171 miles to raise money for the hospital that saved his teenage son’s life.

David Boyce, 51 from Claygate in Surrey, is going to walk the route his son Tom, 19, took by ambulance when he was transferred from University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to receive life-saving treatment at St Thomas’ Hospital in Waterloo.

Tom’s family had been told to say their goodbyes to him because his heart and lungs were failing due to pneumonia, which led to sepsis.

As a last attempt to save him, the team in Cardiff contacted the specialist ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) team at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The treatment temporarily replaces the work of the lungs or heart in patients with severe lung or heart failure, similar to dialysis for kidney failure, allowing their organs to heal.

David said: “We hadn’t heard of ECMO before but the team explained how it worked and told us this was Tom’s only option.

“Once he was receiving the therapy we felt it was the first positive step – it’s symbolic for why I’m doing the walk. There was finally hope.”

Tom stayed on ECMO for nearly a week and was discharged a few weeks later. He also received follow-up care at Guy’s and St Thomas.

Dr Nick Barrett, consultant in critical care at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Seeing the difference ECMO can make to patients like Tom is what makes our jobs so rewarding.

“Patients suitable for ECMO are desperately sick and have reached the limits of conventional medical therapy. “It is only thanks to the work of a big team that we are able to use this technology to save lives.”

David starts his 30 miles a day for six days walk tomorrow .

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