Pals get on their marks to help sick children

Ciara Healy and Megan Brown from Alnwick
Ciara Healy and Megan Brown from Alnwick

AN Alnwick girl, who was born with a rare liver disease, will be joining thousands of other children to pound the Tyneside streets next weekend.

Ten-year-old Ciara Healy has been busy training for the Junior Great North Run, which she will be running with her friend Megan Brown.

The girls, who are taking part in the run for the first time, are planning to raise funds for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF).

It is a charity which means a lot to them both as Ciara was born with biliary atresia, a rare, life-threatening disease that damages the liver in newborn babies.

Her mum Tracey said: “Ciara had an operation, known as a Kasai procedure, when she was just a few weeks old.

“Fortunately it was a complete success and she has been fit and well ever since.

“As a family, however, we are very conscious that we are one of the lucky ones and we’re very keen to give something back and to support other families in our situation which is why Ciara wanted to do this.”

If the Kasai proceedure is not successful, the only option for children born with biliary atresia is a liver transplant.

Although neither Ciara nor Megan are particular running fans, they are determined to complete the 4km course and raise as much as they can for CLDF.

Ciara said: “I know it was a really worrying time for my mum and dad when they were told I had a liver disease.

“But people I meet now would never guess I had been so poorly.

“I want to show that it is possible to live an active life even if you’re born with a liver disease and to raise money to help other children who might not be as lucky as I have been.”

Chief Executive of CLDF Catherine Arkley said: “Each day in the UK, two children will be diagnosed with a liver disease and we are the leading charity dedicated to fighting it.

“We rely heavily on community fund-raising in order to continue our work supporting young people and their families, providing information to healthcare professionals and funding vital research into childhood liver disease.

“It’s great to see people using a wonderful event like the Great North Run to support us and we are truly grateful to Ciara and Megan for choosing to support us in this way.”

The Junior Great North Run, for children aged between nine and 16, takes place on the Quayside in Newcastle and Gateshead on Saturday, September 17, the day before the Great North Run itself.

Last year over 5,000 young runners took part, raising money for a number of charities.

For more information on CLDF visit www.childliverdisease.org