George began raising money to say thank you to the hospital that saved his little brother’s life. He established the charity ‘Run With George’ to fundraise by running a mile for every month that he had his brother. George’s charity has raised £771,500, all of which has gone towards purchasing life-saving medical equipment for Alder Hey Children’s hospital.
Hi, I’m George Mathias, and I was a premature baby. I don’t remember it, but I know from what I’ve been told that it was a tough time for me and my parents.
I was born seven weeks premature, weighing just four pounds. My dad had to hold me on a small metal tray for an x-ray when I became ill. The doctors thought it might be a stomach condition which would have meant I would have been unlikely to live. Thankfully, the news was good. And after spending two weeks in the Alder Hey Special Care Baby Unit, I eventually had the strength to come home.
“My dad had to hold me on a small metal tray for an x-ray when I became ill. The doctors thought it might be a stomach condition which would have meant I would have been unlikely to live. Thankfully, the news was good.”
Four years later, my little brother James was born. He too was born seven weeks premature. He was a fighter and came home after a few days of being in Special Care. All was well until six weeks later when James suddenly stopped breathing. He was rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where he was in a coma for days. I remember looking at him with wires coming out of his arms, and the noise of the machine that was breathing for him. I was so scared that I was going to lose my new best friend. But Alder Hey saved him and gave me back the little brother I had always wanted.
James is now 10 years old and is my crazy, funny little brother. Sometimes a pain in the neck, but always my best friend! I started my charity, Run With George when I was 10 years old, to say thank you to the hospital for the life of my little brother. I wanted to raise a little bit of money for the Alder Hey, but I could not have dreamt where my idea would take me. I ran a marathon for every year I had my brother, which was over 200 miles. I ran with so many incredible and famous people and raised over three quarters of a million pounds. I was honoured to receive the Pride of Britain Award and the Diana Legacy Award for my work.
I didn’t realise at the time but being premature made more of a difference than I thought. I always felt like I was ‘catching up’ at school, and when I was younger, I struggled with my confidence. Some teachers treated me like I wasn’t as clever as other pupils and it upset me a lot. But my mum and dad told me that I was just catching up. My dad always said that being premature is like starting a marathon a mile behind the other runners. It takes time to make up the gap before you are with the other runners, but it makes you more determined to get there. Thinking of it like this has made me so much more confident, and I really feel like I have achieved something.
On World Prematurity Day today, my advice to other premature children is never listen to anyone who tells you that you are different or not as good.
Being premature is no barrier to being able to achieve your dreams, and nobody has the right to tell you otherwise. As my mum and dad have always said to me…
Prem babies are born fighters.
You can find out more about the great work Alder Hey does here and how you can support.