Meet the four-year-boy running a mini Great North Run for Newcastle's hospitals

A four-year-old boy who received life-saving hospital treatment will take part in the mini Great North Run with his brother, to raise funds for Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

Henry Caine was born with a rare condition which left him struggling to breath, unable to eat, or have a voice and his life was saved and he underwent seven months of treatment at the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

He was born on 22 March 2016 with Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF), a rare congenital condition of the oesophagus and trachea that affects one in every 3,500 babies. 

TOF means that the bottom end of the baby’s oesophagus is joined to its trachea (windpipe).

Without surgical intervention, this causes air to pass from the windpipe to the food pipe and stomach. It can also allow stomach acid to pass into the lungs. 

A few days after birth, tiny Henry underwent bronchoscopy surgery, a procedure that looks inside the lungs airways to find the cause of a lung problem.

And at just two-weeks-old he was fitted with a tracheostomy - an opening into his neck to put a tube into his windpipe to help him breathe.

However, his parents James, 40, and Anna, 40, of Burnhope, County Durham were also delivered the devastating news that Henry had many other medical complications including a hole in his heart and a horseshoe kidney, resulting in a seven-month stay at GNCH.

Henry is currently shielding and his big brother Noah, 6, was due to take part in the GNR event last year. He was hoping to raise funds for the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation, part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity, but it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Henry was due to have life changing surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in October 2020 following his first airway surgery in September 2019 at GNCH. But the family had to turn it down as travelling to London and staying in the capital during Covid-19 was too risky for Henry and his family, they said.

Now, the family are looking forward to having a revision procedure this year which will put in place everything Henry needs to breathe himself, talk and eat.

“It is such an important operation as it will change his, and our lives,” said his dad James.

Both Noah and Henry are ready to do the Mini Great North Run. They are hoping to raise even more funds than they original did last year for the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation to help support other children and young patients.