August 28, 2008

He’s One Little Miracle

By Peter Craig

Just under a year ago, this little boy was given a two per cent chance of survival - but he battled against the odds and has blown out the candle on his first birthday cake.

Leon Cox is the first infant of his age to survive the potentially deadly virus whooping cough through a pioneering treatment, so the Cleethorpes boy's family of five generations never thought they would see this milestone in his young life.

They were told by doctors he would die from the whooping cough virus, which his mum Jade Emerson believes he caught while travelling on a bus when he was just two weeks old.

It began a desperate journey to save Leon's life as doctors at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital first diagnosed the illness and transferred him to Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Jade, (19) of Brereton Avenue said: "We were told he would not last the night. I was given the choice whether or not to go ahead with the treatment, which has so many risks. But to me, it would not have mattered if he ended up in a wheelchair."

She arranged for a christening in Sheffield Hospital and then an 11th-hour search was made for a bed at one of three specialist units at either Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, Coventry or Newcastle.

One was found at Newcastle, and Leon was airlifted there and put on a life-support machine.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy was given, which is a pioneering treatment.

Jade said: "There is only a two per cent chance of life after the therapy. No other child his age has survived after ECMO. It knocked his immune system and he has had bronchitis and chicken pox, and we are worried what else might affect him later in his life.

"But I am happy I can hold him and we are all here for his first birthday. We just hope he grows stronger and becomes a normal healthy boy."

His great-grandmother Alice Harvey, of Brereton Avenue, Cleethorpes said: "He wakes up everyday with a smile, he can crawl, say "mama" and he loves dancing and has played with all the balloons today. He is a miracle baby."

Leon underwent three blood transfusions, was on dialysis and spent nine weeks in hospital.

Alice said: "We are so grateful to all the friends and relatives who have helped us. They took us up and down to Newcastle all the time. We want to thank all the doctors and nurses. They were marvellous."

Others among the five generations celebrating Leon's big day were his dad David Cox (19) and his sister Carmen Emerson (three), grandmother Kath Emerson and great, great grandfather Bernard Wilson (81) of Grimsby.

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