Joanne Pedlow shares her story as family form relay team to complete Belfast Marathon and raise money for hospital charity

Members of the relay team who took part in the Belfast City Marathon in memory of little Alex McCartney.
Members of the relay team who took part in the Belfast City Marathon in memory of little Alex McCartney.

The family of little Alex McCartney took to the streets of Belfast last week with a relay team entered in the marathon to raise money for the ‘Helping Hands’ charity.

Little Alex’s story touched the hearts of people across the country after his untimely death at just eight months old.

His family took the courageous - and generous - decision to allow Alex to become an organ donor, transforming the lives of six other people.

Launching the appeal, Alex’s mother Joanne Pedlow said: “What can I say about our little baby Alex. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin and so much more! He was a hero.

“Alex was born on 22nd May, 2014, weighing in at 6lb 12oz’s. We all fell in love with him instantly - well, just like every mother and father do when they see their child for the first time! He was my fourth child and my second son.

“Alex was the most pleasant child, always smiling and laughing, and extremely tickly. He just used to sit and watch his sisters in awe - even though sometimes Lily didn’t like to share her toys!

“Saturday, January 17, was like any other day, we woke up had breakfast. It was cold outside and snowing. We were all so unaware that this would be the day that would change all our lives forever.

“Sadly this would be the day Alex would have his tragic accident which would, in turn, lead to his untimely death on Wednesday the 21st at the Royal Hopital for Sick Children.”

Paying tribute to hospital staff: “The care that Alex received from both his short hours in Craigavon Area Hospital and also his stay at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children was second to none!

“The nurses held his hand, sung to him and stroked his hair. I was so relieved to know that, when we were not by Alex’s side, he always had the full attention of his nurse.

“This really gave Steve and me great ease and allowed us to go and try and rest as best we could. Alex, Steve and myself could not have been treated with any more respect at this difficult time than we were at the PICU.

“We had beds to sleep in, showers and a kitchen, so that we could keep up our strength: anything we needed, we were given.

“We were offered kind words of advice and especially advice on how to tell the children, and in words which would be easy for them to digest.”

She went on: “I could not say a bad word about the help we received from all staff members in the PICU - from nurses, doctors and organ donor specialists!

“There was never any doubt that we would donate baby Alex’s organs because, if someone could have saved our son’s life, we would have taken it with open arms! Every step of every process was explained, people were always there to help and there was no question ‘too stupid’.

“I really want to show everyone that crossed our path on this journey all our appreciation and try and raise some money for this hospital.

“The money raised is not specifically for the PICU but will be for the entire Children’s Hospital. The charity is called ‘Helping Hands’, which was established by the staff at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

“There is no amount too little and no amount too big... ‘Every little helps’ as the saying goes! And any donation will be very much appreciated.”

She went on to say further fundraisers are being planned.