THE parents of an 11-month-old girl who died suddenly from heart failure have pledged to raise £20,000 for the charity that supported them through their worst nightmare.
Louise and Matt Tomlin, both 34, said only now were they becoming to terms with losing their daughter Sophie in March last year just days after returning from a family holiday to South Africa.
She had dilated cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle where it becomes so stretched and thin that it is unable to pump blood around your body efficiently. It is believed to have been caused by a viral infection and is considered to be rare in children.
Louise told us: “Sophie had been in Heartlands Hospital for a week before Christmas 2012 with severe croup.
“We went on holiday to South Africa in January because she seemed to be much better but when we got back it all went horribly wrong.
“Doctors think she may have picked up a virus somewhere along the way causing the heart to fail. It was all very sudden.
“It does happen, but it is particularly rare for it to happen to someone at the age Sophie was. The deterioration in her was very quick and there was no obvious reason for it.”
The couple from Hampton in Arden, who have a five-year-old son Harry, said Birmingham charity Edward’s Trust – one of few charities that dedicate its time to bereaved families or those facing the loss of a child, and children who have lost parents – had supported them over the past year.
The trust celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and will bank all the money raised at a sell-out ball the Tomlins will host at the National Motorcycle Museum next month with a target of £20,000.
Matt has also taken part in the popular Three Peaks Challenge with 11 of his friends to also raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital where Sophie died.
“We held a Christmas fete in the village hall to raise money for a bench for Sophie and had £1,000 over so donated it to Edward’s Trust.
“We wanted to do more and now we both feel in a position to do more for the trust. It makes us feel like we are doing something for Sophie as well.
“There would be no way I would be talking so openly about Sophie if they had not done what they have for me.
“But you would never hear about them unless you found yourself in this situation, and getting their name out there and ultimately more support for them is so important to what they do.
“I’ve been in this position and appreciate what they do. They have made us feel that we are not alone.”
Tickets for the ball on September 20 have sold out, but if anyone would like to make a donation, become a sponsor or donate a prize for the auction can email firstname.lastname@example.org or make a donation to the trust online at justgiving.com/edwardstrust25thanniversary.