Carol Carter gave birth to her son Mark 13 weeks prematurely in July 1976. At just 27 weeks old and weighing just 1lb 13oz, doctors told Carol that it was unlikely her baby would survive. However Mark defied all odds, and after three months under the care of Charing Cross Hospital he was well enough to home. He became known at the time as the ‘Miracle Baby.’
Now 40 years on Mark is a healthy dad and grandad and his 57 year-old Mum, Carol is about to swim a mile in the Swim Serpentine to raise money for Tommy’s.
'It was a long time ago, but it’s not something you forget,” said Carol from Greenford, West London. “I don’t know why he came so early and he was just so small when he was born. I remember him being wrapped up in silver foil and whisked away. It was hard because I couldn’t hold him or touch him and he was in hospital for three months. But the doctors and nurses saved his life and I’ll be forever grateful and that’s why I’m happy to be swimming the Swim Serpentine for Tommy’s.'
Carol has only took up swimming again in recent years, but her love of open water swimming makes Swim Serpentine the perfect challenge for her:
'I was quite a good swimmer when I was younger, but after I got married and had children, I didn’t swim for quite a long time. Then, two years ago, I joined a gym and started building up the lengths in the outdoor swimming pool. That got me into enjoying swimming outside and I joined a swimming group that swims in the Thames on Saturday mornings and another one that swims in Jubilee River on Sundays. Open water swimming really is special. I don’t think once you have done it you go back to an indoor pool.'
It is wonderful to hear that Carol values Tommy’s work and is fundraising for us after all these years. We hope that her Swim Serpentine story can inspire others to take the plunge and do the same. Good luck from all of us at Tommy’s Carol, we’ll be there to cheer you on!
You can sponsor Carol here.
If you'd like to take part in Swim Serpentine you can sign up here.
This unique Preterm Surveillance Clinic – funded by Tommy's as part of our research in St Thomas' Hospital, London, has won an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize, for its success in reducing the number of premature births in South East London.
Tommy’s prematurity research centre in London is based at St Thomas’ Hospital, where the charity first began. Opened in 1995, it is the first Maternal and Fetal Research Unit in the UK.
Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.