Nottinghamshire dad recalls ‘difficult days’ after baby needed surgery because of rare condition

A father from Nottinghamshire has talked of his family’s ‘difficult days’ when the joy of a baby son was quickly tempered with the news of the infant’s serious medical condition. Parents Rob Simpson, 40, and Tracy Hasell, 41, from Worksop, went home with their son Oliver three days after he was born in 2014.

But when they got home, his parents knew something was not right as Oliver started vomiting. Rob said: “We initially contacted our local hospital and then our community midwife came out to us.

“Oliver then started vomiting so we took him into our local hospital again. That’s when they told us that Oliver was a very poorly baby, and that we needed to get him to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as soon as possible.”

Oliver was moved to a transport bed and incubator, provided with oxygen and other medication before being taken to Sheffield Children’s by ambulance. Once the family arrived at the hospital, Oliver was admitted to the intensive care unit. He was placed on a drip.

Oliver is a very active young boy following life-saving care at Sheffield Children's
Oliver is a very active young boy following life-saving care at Sheffield Children’s

Rob said: “Once we were at the hospital, the severity of the situation became real but immediately there was an organised plan in place to give Oliver the best chance possible.”

Oliver was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease, a rare condition where the nerves which control movement in the bowels are missing. This can cause severe constipation and lead to serious infection if it is not found and treated early.

He spent the next 20 days receiving care in hospital and had surgery to remove around 5 inches of damaged bowel and reconnect the functioning nerve endings.

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Rob said: “They were difficult days, but once we had a diagnosis, we could focus on how the issue could be addressed and, in that sense, it was a huge relief. The main thing I remember is the speed at which everything happened once we were admitted but also how calming it all was. Everyone knew exactly what needed to be done, who would do it and how to get it started. This continued throughout his care at Sheffield Children’s from start to finish, everything was explained to us in detail, and we felt included every step of the way.

“In the months after we were discharged, we had a number of follow up visits to check on Oliver’s progress, and we made a point of visiting the nurses and staff who helped with his recovery. We will remain forever grateful for the medical care the staff gave Oliver at Sheffield Children’s, but also the behind-the-scenes support we received helping us cope with the situation as a family.”

In the years that followed, Oliver had five rounds of Botox injections to help relax his muscles and allow his bowels to function normally. He continues to take daily medication and remains under the care of Sheffield Children’s, although his check-ups are now once every year.

Rob said: “Oliver today is seven and a very active child, he never sits still! He loves anything outdoors, including football, cricket, biking and most other sports. He enjoys family walks and coming with me to the trails at Sherwood Pines. The condition and the surgery certainly haven’t held him back in any way.”

Rob is training for the Sheffield Half Marathon to say thank you
Rob is training for the Sheffield Half Marathon to say thank you

To say thank you for Oliver’s ongoing care, Rob has signed up to take on the Sheffield Half Marathon on March 27 to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Charity. He’s also set up a JustGiving page, where he has already surpassed his target of £500.

Rob said: “I used to be quite active but since having children I haven’t had the time to get out as much and as a result, I put on around five stone in weight. When I turned 40 last year, I realised I needed to get myself back in shape before it got too far.

“If anyone is considering taking on a new challenge, I would advise them to just go for it – you only ever regret the things you don’t do in life. It’s hard at first, but it does get easier, and you are in control of it. I last ran the half marathon more than a decade ago but although I am older now, I am definitely at my peak fitness wise.

“I think the hardest part of the Sheffield Half Marathon is going to be the hills for me! The training I am currently doing is in Nottinghamshire, which is flat, so it will be a challenge.

“The one thing I remember most about the Sheffield Half is the atmosphere being amazing, and how that carries a lot of runners. It’s that feeling of support which will carry me through. Oliver understands what I am doing and how it’s good that I’m raising money for the hospital.

“He said he’s proud of me for doing it, that I’m doing well with my running and that he loves me and that’s all any father needs to know.”

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