Riding for tiny lives | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - September 2016

Riding for tiny lives

When Gary Sheehan’s daughter Megan was born more than three months early, she was given less than a one in four chance of survival. Now 14, Megan cheered her dad on as he cycled 300 miles from London to Paris this summer.

Megan Sheehan was born by emergency caesarean more than 13 weeks early in November 2001. She weighed just 1lb 13oz and her parents, Gary and Geraldine, were told that her chances of surviving were low.

On 3 December 2001, Megan was christened and her life support system was turned off – only to be switched back on again as she began to respond. Against all the odds the tiny little girl, who spent almost two months fighting for her life in intensive care did eventually get to go home, leaving hospital one week after her due date in February 2002.

Megan underwent numerous medical procedures for complications as a result of being born too soon and her dad Gary, a dual site manager for car parts company Andrew Page, says the family owes a huge debt to the medical teams who helped her, as well as the friends and family who supported them during the toughest few months of their lives.

It’s this gratitude and a desire to help fund more research to help babies like Megan that inspired Gary to tackle our 300-mile London to Paris bike ride for the second year in a row.

“A massive part of Megan’s success story lies behind the scenes in the fundraisers – without the fundraisers, the money would not be there to continue to work out why these special babies come so early,” he says.

“All parents of premature babies ask the question ‘Why? Why has this happened?’ In our case, the answer was: ‘It’s just one of those things; we don’t know’. All of the parents we met were told the same.

“With continued research, one day the doctors will know. We all need to help continue this work.”

Research funded by Action aims to reduce the high rate of premature birth, as well as find the best ways to care for very sick and vulnerable babies.

Now a happy, healthy and creative 14-year-old, it’s hard to believe Megan endured such a traumatic start in life. She flew to France with her mum to be at the finish line in Paris on 23 July as Gary, who celebrated his 50th birthday on the ride the day before, cycled down the Champs Elysées in triumph.

If you’d like to ride for a reason and raise money for Action by cycling from London to Paris in 2017, read more and register here.

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