‘If it wasn’t for Penny I’m not sure I’d have made it!’

Penny holding the Olympic torch in 2012 (right)
Penny holding the Olympic torch in 2012 (right)
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A special Dunstable charity worker has inspired a mum to run the London Marathon for Down’s Heart Group.

Penny Green, who lives in Eaton Bray, and is director of Down’s Heart Group, Dunstable, inspired Leighton Buzzard mum Suzie Trew Foster, 40, to enter the running challenge after hearing how Penny helped her friend, Anne-Marie Turner, 35.

Ella at six months old, post surgery.

Ella at six months old, post surgery.

Anne-Marie’s daughter, Ella, four, of Leighton Buzzard, was born with Down’s Syndrome and had two holes in her heart, meaning she needed surgery at just four-and-a-half months old to breathe and pump blood properly.

The family’s lifeline was the charity Down’s Heart Group, a support who explained the link between Down’s Syndrome and heart conditions.

Anne-Marie said: “If I hadn’t had the charity, I am not sure I would have been able to get through. Penny Green, who runs it, is amazing and would visit after Ella was born. She explained things in layman’s terms and supported me emotionally, even offering to come to appointments.”

Anne-Marie found out whilst she was still pregnant that Ella would need surgery, her tiny daughter ending up in hospital several times before the operation because she had choked on her bottle formula due to difficulties breathing.

Suzie loves a challenge! London 2016

Suzie loves a challenge! London 2016

Anne-Marie said: “Ella was blue lighted at two-and-a-half months old which was the worst experience ever.

“On this particular day, Ella choked, but for some reason this time her breath didn’t come back. Her eyes started bulging, her lips went blue and her skin went mottled.”

Ella was rushed to Luton and Dunstable Hospital, staying for a few days to recover.

Luckily, at four-and-a-half months, surgeons at Great Ormond Street closed up the two holes in her heart using gauzes and Ella is now flourishing at Heathwood Lower School.

Daniel with big brother, Andrew. Andrew was 15 and a half months old when Daniel was born.

Daniel with big brother, Andrew. Andrew was 15 and a half months old when Daniel was born.

Penny said: “Ella is absoluety adorable and nobody can take away what the families go through - you can feel very lonely and isolated.

“My son Daniel was born in 1989 with Down’s Syndrome. He had heart and bowel problems and spent 100 days going between Great Ormond Street and Luton and Dunstable Hospital. He passed away from a cardiac arrest. I then found Down’s Heart Group, who supported me - and I thought ‘I’d like to do something!’”

Penny has since supported many families and carried the Olympic torch in Dunstable to represent Down’s Syndrome. She also has a goddaughter, Honour, seven, who lives in Nigeria. Honour had heart surgery in India aged one.

Suzie, of Heath Green, Heath and Reach, said: “Ella is a beautiful little girl and Anne-Marie recommended the charity and told me how Penny had helped her.

Penny with Honour and her mum, Patience

Penny with Honour and her mum, Patience

“On marathon day, I am hoping that Anne-Marie and Ella, as well as my partner Mark and our twins Emily and Jack (eight), will come and watch. I’m also getting Ella’s face printed on my t-shirt!”

Anne Marie added: ““Ella was a ghost of a child. Her every breath used to be a marathon – and now Suzie is running a marathon for us. I am so blessed that she’s chosen Down’s Heart Group!”

To donate, visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SuzieTrewFoster

Around 50% of children with Down’s Syndrome are born with heart conditions, and you can find out more at: www.dhg.org.uk/

Ella (bottom right) and her family met Mickey Mouse in Florida last August to celebrate her operation anniversary!

Ella (bottom right) and her family met Mickey Mouse in Florida last August to celebrate her operation anniversary!