Mum-of-two taking on ABP Newport Marathon for son born with heart condition

ABP Newport Marathon Festival | NEWPORT, WALES

A mum from Bristol will be running the ABP Newport Marathon to give back to the charity that supported her while her son underwent heart surgery.

Emilie Bioud, who had previously never run, will be raising money for the Grand Appeal by taking on the marathon challenge on Sunday 28 April.

The 38-year-old gave birth to her son Mateo at Southmead Hospital in May 2020. However, just days later Emilie and her husband Simon, noticed something wasn’t quite right.

She said: “I’d had a difficult birth and needed an emergency C-section. It was during Covid and we were sent home, thinking everything was fine. But we started to notice Mateo was having problems with his breathing and by 10 days old he was refusing to eat. It was stressing us out, so we took him to Bristol Hospital to check what was going on.

“It was a Sunday morning and A&E was very quiet so the doctors said they could run all the tests and scans they needed. But that’s when we discovered he had coarctation of the aorta and a bicuspid valve. Our whole world came crashing down.”

The heart condition meant Mateo’s vein was too narrow to push the blood around his body. Doctors said the family had come to them just in time, as if they would have waited just a few hours longer, his organs may have started to shut down.

Emilie, who works at Bath City Council Library, said: “The vein that was affected gave blood to everything below Mateo’s chest which meant there was a risk he may not be able to walk.

“As a nurse was checking Mateo over, they noticed his legs were folded and mentioned they may already be affected. Simon is a passionate runner and he looked crushed at the thought of his son never being able to run with him. I took the decision there and then, that if Mateo wouldn’t be able to walk or run, I’d do a marathon for him.”

Doctors told Emilie and Simon that they needed to act quickly and took him to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) ready for surgery to widen his vein the next day.

While they were waiting, the couple were approached by the Grand Appeal who offered them a room behind the hospital so they could be near to their baby for as long as they needed.

Emilie said: “The charity was fantastic and you’re in a building with other parents of children in PICU so you don’t feel so alone. They also recognise that you’re extremely stressed and worried about your child and help with supplying food so it’s one less thing to worry about.”

Mateo’s surgery went well, but it was another 11 days before he was strong enough to go home. Thankfully, his physio also determined that his legs weren’t affected by his heart condition, which was a huge relief for the family.

Emilie said: “The doctor said his surgery was a success but there was a 50% chance the vein could narrow again and he’d need regular check-ups.

“When he was four months old, doctors noticed Mateo’s vein was starting to narrow and he needed balloon surgery to widen it. He was only in hospital for a day this time, and while it was still stressful it was nowhere near as frightening as his first surgery – that was the worst day of my life.”

Mateo, who is now three, is doing well and is due to start school next year. He’s also since become an older brother to Emeric, now one. He’ll need regular heart check-ups throughout his life, particularly to monitor his bicuspid valve which may start to impact him when he’s older.

Emilie said: “Life continued and I had my second son in September 2022. I then remember having a conversation with Simon and thinking maybe it’s time to keep my promise and run a marathon to raise money for the Grand Appeal. That’s when I decided to enter the 2024 Newport Marathon.

“I’m a walker, not a runner, but Simon has been helping me train. We started the bar really low at first, running for a minute, then two and then three, gradually building myself up.

“By the time the ABP Newport Marathon comes round, I’ll have completed a year and a half of training. I’ve recently done a 10K and a half marathon and will do 30K before the marathon to make sure I’m OK. Every time I run, I add on a little more and even run to work, which is about a half marathon away, with a headtorch on.

“I’d be really proud of myself if I’m able to run the marathon and I’m determined to raise as much money as possible for the Grand Appeal.”

Matt Newman, Chief Executive at event organisers Run 4 Wales, said: “Emilie’s story is so inspiring and we’re so pleased to hear her son is doing well. There are so many runners at our events who fundraise for causes close to their hearts and the Grand Appeal is a fantastic charity to be raising money for. We wish Emilie the best of luck with the rest of her training and can’t wait to see all her hard work come into fruition as we cheer her across the finish line.”