Sunderland dad tackles Great North Run as thanks to premature baby unit which cared for daughter

David Jurgens with daughter Christina.
David Jurgens with daughter Christina.

A devoted dad is set to tackle this weekend’s Great North Run half marathon as a thank you to the hospital unit which cared for his daughter when she was born almost 30 years ago.

David Jurgens and wife Lynn’s daughter Christina came into the world four weeks premature 29 years ago at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

David Jurgens with staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital's neo-natal unit.

David Jurgens with staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital's neo-natal unit.

Weighing just 5lb, staff at the Royal’s neo-natal unit cared for her in an incubator for the first three weeks of her life.

Thankfully, after being put on a general ward following treatment, she was deemed well enough to go home four weeks later.

Christina last year married Shane Paton and David says in honour of the occasion it is an ideal time to take on this year’s 13.1-mile run in aid of City Hospitals Sunderland’s official charity.

He will be hoping to raise money towards new equipment for the neo-natal unit.

David Jurgens.

David Jurgens.

David, 56, of Grindon, who is also dad to Sarah, 27, will take to the course wearing a specially designed shirt showing a picture of Christina when she was born and what she looks like now, captioned “From tiny baby, to bride to be”.

David, who has been diagnosed as having Type 1 diabetes since 1985 and is also asthmatic, told the Echo: “The staff were fantastic while Christina was in the unit and I always said I would like to repay them some day.

“I’ve been in to see the staff to tell them about the fund-raising and I had tears in my eyes remembering back to when she was born.

“I have only done the Great North Run once before in 1987 but I didn’t actually finish the race, I collapsed just short of the finish line after a number of diabetic hypos during the run.

David Jurgens wearing the t-shirt he will have on to do this weekend's Great North Run in.

David Jurgens wearing the t-shirt he will have on to do this weekend's Great North Run in.

“They did give me a medal and t-shirt as I think they felt sorry for me.”

It is also not the first time that David and Christina will have featured in the Echo.

In July 1997 Christina saved her dad’s life when she noticed he was suffering from a diabetic attack while they were in the family’s backyard.

Christina managed to alert the emergency services who turned up to offer assistance.

She was handed a Quill Award that same year in recognition of her actions, something which the family still treasure more than two decades on.

“Christina has done really well for herself,” added David, who works as a senior support worker at Sunderland Care and Support.

“She’s had quite a few different jobs and is now a qualified chef.

“She’s going to pick me up when I finish the run on Sunday, but I just hope she isn’t picking me up off the floor!”

David has so far raised £600 for his appeal and hopes for more donations to come in between now and race day.

“Even my aunt in Australia has sent over money to sponsor me and it’s all for a good cause,” he said.

To donate to David’s appeal go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-jurgens