Epic cycle in memory of baby Zaki
A Broxburn dad is gearing up to cycle the North Coast 500 route in memory of his baby son who passed away earlier this year, aged just 10 days old.
Mourad Senouci (32) hopes to raise as much funds as possible through his epic 516-mile challenge for two charities close to his heart - Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) and Tiny Tickers.
CHAS provided care for baby Zaki after he was born on 4 September 2020 which enabled Mourad and his wife Ashley (33) to spend precious time with their baby in the comforting surroundings of Robin House in Balloch, right up until he passed away.
Tiny Tickers is another charity which means a lot to the Senouci family as it aims to improve the early detection, diagnosis, and care of babies with congenital heart problems.
Mourad, Ashley and their young daughters, Sofia and Hana were excited to learn during lockdown that they were soon to become a family of five.
Joy turned to sadness at Ashley’s 20 week scan however when it was revealed that her unborn baby had at least one congenital heart defect (CHD). Ashley and Mourad were dealt a further blow when tests detected their little boy had nine heart defects in total.
Mourad said: “In that moment, our world came crashing down. We were told that in addition to these nine defects, our baby’s tiny stomach was on the wrong side and that he had a separate condition called Duodenal atresia. We were informed that each of the conditions were serious and to have them all in one child was very rare.”
Throughout the rest of her pregnancy, Ashley was closely monitored by the cardiac team at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and it was there that baby Zakariya (Zaki for short) was born on 4 September, one week before his due date.
Mourad and Ashley were overjoyed to meet their beautiful baby boy at last but sadly only had time to give him a quick cuddle before he was taken away for treatment.
The tiny tot spent seven days in total in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit where he was dependent on a drip as well as medication to help keep a duct in his heart open.
Ashley explained: “This is something that naturally closes soon after birth which would be fine for a regular heart, however if Zaki's closed, his heart would not be able to function.
“The unit became our home for those seven long days. There were X-rays, heart scans, blood tests, as well as the challenging task of changing Zaki’s nappy through the hand holes of an incubator. Zaki was doing well, however and deceivingly looked like an ordinary baby laying there for that week, apart from the many wires and sensors attached to him.”
Sadly, Mourad and Ashley were soon given devastating news from the cardiologists who had been assessing their son that they could do nothing further to help him.
Mourad said: “They said they had been discussing Zaki's options for surgery but due to the complexity and sheer number of CHDs they felt there was nothing left that could be done. We were completely devastated and broke down. The team took us through their reasoning and explained their decision. Even though we knew this was a likely outcome way back at the 20-week scan, it was extremely painful to hear. We had just met our baby and now we would have to begin saying goodbye.”
The couple were guided through the palliative care options available for their son and they decided they wanted to go to Robin House where they could be together and where Zaki would be made as comfortable as possible.
Ashley said the final days she and Mourad were able to spend with their son as “so special” adding that Robin House felt “like a home from home”.
She added: “We were able to make special memories together, playing, reading stories and walking in the beautiful gardens and Zaki was able to be just be a normal baby for that short time. We will forever be thankful for that precious time we had with our beautiful boy and will remember him always.
“Because both CHAS and Tiny Tickers were there for us at the start and the end of our journey we want to give something back so these two wonderful charities can continue to help other families like ours.”
Mourad plans to complete his NC500 cycle over five days in March 2021 and will be riding solo and wild camping each night.
He said: “’I’ve chosen this challenge as cycling is a love of mine and with my daughters being keen cyclists already I would like to think that Zaki would have joined our little peloton. I would love to reach the £3,000 mark by the end of the year so would welcome any support from anyone who is in a position to donate.”
Senior Community Fundraiser at CHAS, Fiona Leslie said: “We are so grateful to Mourad for organising this fundraising challenge in memory of Zaki. We rely on fundraising events like this to help us continue to keep the joy alive for the children and families we support who need our help now more than ever.”
Tiny Tickers spokeswoman, Katie Lawson added: "The coronavirus pandemic has made an already difficult journey, even harder for those navigating the dangerous, unrelenting and indiscriminate foe that is congenital heart disease. We are so proud of Mourad and his family - in honouring Zaki’s memory, they are giving so much support to other babies and families affected by congenital heart defects."