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Father of three to trek the Sahara for his son Jacob

Later this year, Basingstoke family man, Jonathon Tate, will trek across the Sahara desert to raise money for Southampton General Hospital.

“In June 2013 my son Jacob got ill and was coughing with a high fever. Despite lots of rest, numerous visits to the GP and various medicines, he just kept getting sicker and sicker. When our local hospital did scans and xrays, they could see his lungs were riddled with an infection. No-one could figure out why it wouldn't recede and he was referred to Southampton General Hospital,” explained Jon.

“The doctors at Southampton looked at all kinds of possible causes from TB to meningitis, but ultimately diagnosed that Jacob had a severe form of pneumonia which his body was unable to fight due to an extremely rare underlying congenital defect with his immune system called Chronic Granulomatous Disease or CGD. After several more weeks of intravenous medicines and continuous oral medicines to this day, the pneumonia did recede. The infection remains in his lungs, and has only been kept at bay by the medication, rather than being fully eradicated.”

“In February, Jacob will be going into Great Ormond Street Hospital for a Bone Marrow Transplant.  There is a 90% chance this will cure him by building up his immune system.”

“My family has been lucky to benefit from the skill, knowledge and fortitude of the staff at Southampton General Hospital.  I am in no doubt that they saved my son's life.” 

“Even though doctors and nurses in London will now take things forward for Jacob, my connection with Southampton General Hospital will not end there. As we went into Southampton, there were children on the ward much sicker than Jacob.” 

“Shortly after we left Southampton General Hospital, some friends of ours were admitted in with their four year old son who was diagnosed with cancer, and one specific tumour pressing on an artery which required emergency surgery. The Southampton team saved that boy's life there and then. He remains a regular patient, receiving regular ongoing treatment. I could go on to name a number of people my family know who have received or are currently receiving care from the team there.”

“Families staying with their children in a hospital feel a mixture of helplessness, fear, boredom, uncertainty and anxious waiting, punctuated by complicated medical updates and the distress of seeing your child in one form of pain or another. You want to do whatever you can to make your loved ones stay there as comfortable and peaceful as it can be in the circumstances.”

“So when I saw a poster inviting people to commit to a sponsored Sahara Trek to raise money for the Southampton Hospital Charity I felt utterly compelled to do so. It should be a gruelling but rewarding challenge. It will consist of roughly 100km of walking across the open desert, followed by working at a project, such as a hospice or shelter for the elderly in Marrakech where poverty is rife.”

“My aim is to raise £5,000.  I have been talking with Jacob’s medical team in Southampton to look at how the money can be best used to make other families' stays there as comfortable as possible. We were lucky and took in 3G technology, a portable DVD player, laptop, etc to keep Jacob entertained as well as connected with his school work.  Not every family can afford this.”

“In Southampton General Hospital they want to do some electrical maintenance to enable working TVs, DVD players and Wi-Fi to be put into the children's ward, and are fundraising for the installation of an interactive floor in children’s outpatients. This piece of kit will offer entertainment for the children attending clinics, particularly disabled children or those with special needs. The hospital also aims to install a DVD player in the ceiling of the treatment room of John Atwell Day Ward as a distraction aid whilst children are undergoing a procedure.”

So far Jon has raised around £1,300 and is continuing to do various fundraising activities to reach his target. If you have been inspired by Jon’s story then please visit his Just Giving page:

Southampton Hospital Charity still has some charity places open for the Sahara desert trek so please take a look on our website for full details or alternatively contact the charity offices on 023 8120 8881 for more information.

Last updated: 6/2/14

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