Sam Williams had no issues with her first two pregnancies, but knew the risk increased every time, because of her partner Matt's blood type. Matt has Rh negative or universal blood type, which is great for donating blood, however it can cause difficulties with pregnancy, and the risk grows each time - something the pair weren't aware of until their last pregnancy.

Sam and Matt have three children together, Oliver aged eight, Noah aged three and Arthur who is one. Oliver and Noah arrived smoothly, apart from Noah being born with mild jaundice, but it was when Sam was expecting their third child, Arthur, that things took a turn for the worse.

At around three months pregnant, doctors noticed that Arthur's blood type was not the same as Sam's and that his white blood count was higher than it should be. Sam said: "My body was trying to attack Arthur’s because it saw it as something foreign and thought that it shouldn’t be there. The doctors said he could be born severely jaundice."

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Throughout her pregnancy, Sam was monitored by doctors and underwent ultrasound scans every fortnight. Two and half weeks before Sam was due to give birth, she was rushed in for an emergency C-section as her blood flow to the baby slowed down as well as the baby's growth.

Arthur Williams
You wouldn't believe what Arthur went through by looking at him now Left: Arthur as a new born and, right: Arthur at one-year-old

Arthur weighed just 5lb 9oz at birth with his bilirubin - a yellowish fluid your liver makes to help you digest food - levels in the 400's causing extreme jaundice which if left too long can cause a condition called kernicterus, a type of brain damage that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby's blood. He was taken to the neonatal unit where he underwent two blood transfusions and phototherapy hours after he was born.

Sam said the doctors and nurses at Noah's Ark Children's Hospital for Wales were "brilliant" and helped the family get through a really distressing time. She said: "It was a very, very scary time and had they not caught it then he might not have been with us today. If they had not been there for us then we probably would have been a mess."

Doctors have told the parents that until Arthur reaches primary school they won't know if his ordeal when he was born will have a long term effect. But for now Arthur is developing normally for his age and is a "walking, talking funny little lad", according to Matt and Sam.

It was in June, 2023, that the Cardiff couple decided they wanted to set themselves a challenge to raise money for the hospital that saved their youngest son's life. But instead of taking on just one big challenge, they set themselves the goal of completing 24 activities throughout 2024 to raise money for Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Charity, and they have already begun on the 'Noah’s Ark 24 for 2024 - Tiny Lives Appeal'.

In January both Sam and Matt ran a total of 200k and in February Sam swam 800m and Matt completed an hour swim in an endless pool. For the latest Cardiff news, sign up to our newsletter here

Throughout the year they will be completing many physical challenges including; The Cardiff Half Marathon, The Wales Marathon, Aquathlon (750m swim & 5km run), Noah’s Ark Superhero Dash and plenty more. Not all activities within the 24 for 2024 are physical challenges, with charity events also set up for the summer. Matt and Sam's eldest son, Oliver, will also be completing a park run as part of the fundraiser.

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The most challenging activity they have set themselves is a 50 mile walk of the full Taff trail in one day, which could take around 18/19 hours to complete. Friends and family will be supporting them along the route but meeting them at different points to cheer them on and join in the walk.

Both Sam and Matt describe themselves as being far from active people. Matt said: "Think of the fittest people then go the opposite end of the spectrum." Therefore, Matt has begun his 16-week marathon training with a running coach as well as training in the gym and pool and working with a nutritionist. Get the best user experience with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android

The couple hope to raise at least £5000 for Noah's Ark during their challenge and have already raised over £1,600 in the first three months. They said: "We've been extremely lucky with getting donations so far and it just motivates to keep going." To donate to the fundraiser, Noah’s Ark 24 for 2024 and for more information visit here.