Shropshire Star

Occupational therapist to take on marathon challenge to raise hospital funds

Kannan Natchimuthu will be joined by 30 others at the London Marathon next month.

Kannan Natchimuthu

A neo-natal expert who only got his first pair of running shoes at the age of 18 is to take part in the London Marathon in aid of his maternity hospital.

Kannan Natchimuthu, 46, is gearing up for the gruelling run despite going without proper footwear until he entered third-level education.

Constantly overlooked for sporting teams in his youth, he transformed his life after arriving in Ireland in 2006 – and is now a tennis coach and an international umpire.

The Indian native will be joined by more than 30 others from Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), Cork University Hospital (CUH) and the broader community taking on the event on April 21.

Funds, channelled through CUH charity, will be used to improve facilities at the neo-natal intensive care unit where he works and at the intensive care unit in CUH.

Mr Natchimuthu, a father of two teenagers from Midleton in Cork, is the senior neonatal and paediatric occupational therapist at the hospital.

He said: “Back in India, I never ran before, I was never involved in sports in school or college.

“With the help of my uncle, I got my first runners at 18 – for us, it was only rich people buying shoes.

“I didn’t tell my parents, my mum was saying it was very expensive and a waste of money, that I didn’t need shoes.”

The trainers cost 600 rupees (around seven euro at the time), considered a fortune which would have fed an entire family in their village of Seethappatty for a month.

Kannan Natchimuthu started working at CUMH in 2007 (Brian Lougheed/PA)

“After coming here, I ran the Cork City Marathon relay and did it every year for 12 years.

“I inspired my friends to be part of a relay team. They never liked to run or jog, now nearly 50 of my friends have taken up running.”

Mr Natchimuthu, who is married to CUMH clerical officer Subathra, studied paediatrics in Mumbai, completing his thesis in neo-natal care.

He secured his “dream job” in the neo-natal unit at CUMH in 2007.

“I always want to learn new things, every day is a new learning in life. We won’t know everything but we can try to learn more.”

Of the 8,000 babies born in CUMH annually, 10% are premature or high risk and enter neo-natal care.

The hospital is the only one outside Dublin with a cooling bed to reduce babies’ body temperature and stop potential brain swelling.

Information on the fundraising drive is available at:

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