Published on 08 March 2019
It has taken 11 life-changing operations to get Jasmine Casey to where she is today.
The University of Sunderland student had to undergo the first of those surgeries when she was just an hour old.
Skip forward two decades and today the 20-year-old is the picture of health, spending the second year of her Sociology degree studying in Australia.
And Jasmine is determined to give something back to the team of carers who helped her family while she was fighting for her life.
The South Shields student was born at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on January 12, 1999. Premature, she arrived in the world with a birth defect called gastroschisis, where her intestines were on the outside of her body.
At less than an hour old, she had surgery and for the following six months underwent specialist treatment at the hospital as parents Nicola and Robert waited by her bedside.
Jasmine said: “Being so critically ill at just hours old was incredibly scary for my parents. Some may think it’s just a short distance to Newcastle from South Shields, but when you’re told your child might not survive travelling to and from there is not an option. It’s too risky.
“My health shifted between critically ill and stable, and when it was touch and go my parents stayed at Crawford House, ran by the Sick Children’s Trust. On the days when I seemed better, they offered their room back to the charity and made the journey home.”
Inspired by the care shown by staff at Crawford House, Jasmine decided, while away in Australia, to do some fundraising for the Sick Children’s Trust.
After undergoing such major surgery, Jasmine knows better than most the importance of living your life to the full.
She said: “The condition did affect me when I was younger. It made me feel self-conscious growing up because I knew I was different but it also made me make sure I made the most out of my life.
“I always tried to get involved in sports events and anything that was going on with school events and, as I got older and I got into university, it made me realise how short life is, so I signed up to go to Australia and do a year abroad.”
Jasmine recently took on the Melbourne Half Marathon to kick off her fundraising, and has also been skydiving, helping raise more than £430.
She added: “What happened did have a big impact on my life, especially in my teenage years. It definitely made me realise the value of life and how anything can happen.”
The Sick Children’s Trust runs 10 ‘Homes from Home’ across the country, supporting around 4,000 families every year with seriously ill children in hospital.
It was a service that Jasmine, who hopes to become a teacher, knows she owes so much too.
She added: “I’ve been doing all I can for the charity – even though I’m currently studying in Australia. Last year I successfully completed my first half marathon, on the other side of the world and managed to raise enough money to sponsor the very room that my parents stayed in when I was born.”