Overwhelming love for Plymouth boy born with a hole in his heart

A brave little boy who encountered complications during his fourth open heart surgery has sparked an epic challenge.

Connor Sargent was born with a hole in his heart, known as a ventricular septal defect and heart disease, known as pulmonary atresia.

The now nine-year-old has undergone four major open heart surgeries and on his latest operation at the Southampton General Hospital on July 9 this year, surgeons encountered complications.

The brave little boy spent ten hours in surgery, with four on bypass, causing his organs to shut down. Connor suffered kidney failure, jaundice, gallstones and two blood clots.

His mum, Jo Sargent, said Connor’s kidneys are in stage 5, which is the most severe stage and they hope to leave Southampton hospital and return to their home in West Park after seven weeks away.

The family have also been left overwhelmed by the support of their local community after Jo’s friend’s son offered to help raise funds, despite not knowing the family himself.

Kind-hearted George Birkbeck has taken on the task to run the distance of 360km in 30 days, equaling a gruelling 7.45 miles a day, in an effort to raise as much money to make daily-life easier for Connor and his family.

Connor Sargent with his mum and dad, Jo and Duncan
(Image: Jo Sargent)

“George didn’t know our family, but wanted to do something amazing for us,” Jo said.

“It means so much to us as a family to know that so many people have supported Connor’s cause. It’s so awesome and Connor thinks George is awesome he sends videos everyday.

“I still cannot believe the support we have received its awesome.

Stay in the know

“Both Duncan [Connor’s dad] and I cannot believe what everyone is doing for our family it’s just absolutely amazing I’m lost for words.”

Connor had his first open heart surgery in his first week on earth and then had corrective surgery at five months old. He then underwent a third surgery at age six.

Connor Sargent is just nine years old and has had four open heart surgeries
(Image: Jo Sargent)

Jo said: “This time around Connor’s organs took a hit his kidneys stopped working he went on to dialysis.

“He will need to go back on dialysis at home and he will need a kidney transplant but hopefully not quite yet. The medication is working for now but we are very aware of what is coming Connor and will also be coming back to Southampton in a few weeks time, to have a peg fitted.

“He will always have to have operations for his heart too.”

So far, George is on Day 14 of day 30 and has smashed his target of £1,000, raising £1,567 to date. You can donate here.

Writing on the JustGiving page, George said: “I will be running from RAF Cosford where I am based to Plymouth over the course of 30 days. This equates to 12km a day every day for 30 days, a total of 360km, or 9 marathons in 30 days.

“All of the money raised will be going to Connor and his family so they don’t have to worry about the costs of travelling from Plymouth to Southampton.

George after completing one of his runs
(Image: George Birkbeck)

“Taking days off work or providing Connor with any comfortable needs, to keep him happy in hospital and for when he gets out.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, only one parent is allowed with Connor at one time.

Connor’s dad, Duncan, has been travelling up to Southampton from Plymouth on the weekends to spend an hour with his son.

You can follow daily and support George with his challenge on the Connor’s Cause Facebook page, here.

Plymouth Live