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Fears for 16-day-old baby who suffered three cardiac arrests within hours of being born



Fears for 16-day-old baby who suffered three cardiac arrests within hours of being born as he is given just weeks to live

  • Carter Cookson was born premature on Boxing Day and needs a new heart
  • He is hooked up to a machine which helps pump blood around his body 
  • Family have been told he can only stay attached to the machine for five weeks 

By Terri-ann Williams For Mailonline

Published: 21:03 EST, 11 January 2019 | Updated: 13:12 EST, 12 January 2019

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A baby boy who suffered three cardiac arrests within hours of being born has been given just weeks to live unless he gets a new heart.

Little Carter Cookson was born premature on Boxing Day and is currently hooked up to a machine (ECMO) which helps pump blood around his body.

But doctors have told the family he can only stay attached to the machine for another five weeks, and his only hope of survival is to find a heart donor.

Carter Cookson (pictured above) has just five weeks to get a new heart
Carter Cookson (pictured above) has just five weeks to get a new heart

Carter Cookson (pictured above) has just five weeks to get a new heart

It is further heartache for parents Sarah, 43, and Christopher, 40, whose son Charlie died in 2013, aged two, after suffering a mystery illness.

Devastated dad Christopher, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, said: 'For our little boy to live it would mean another family having to give away their child's heart. And that is a big, big ask.

'We just want to give our boy a chance of life. Unless we can find a heart we are going to lose our son at five weeks.

Carter's parents Chris and Sarah (pictured above) have been keeping a round the clock vigil at his bedside 
Carter's parents Chris and Sarah (pictured above) have been keeping a round the clock vigil at his bedside 

Carter's parents Chris and Sarah (pictured above) have been keeping a round the clock vigil at his bedside 

'There is no chance of his heart being able to pump blood around his body without the machine.

'Hearing that just brought it all back with Charlie. Every moment he is on ECMO. It's just an absolutely horrible situation.

'To see your son attached to all sort of tubes is just heartbreaking.

Carter Cookson
Carter Cookson
Carter Cookson
Carter Cookson

The parents of Carter Cookson (left) say he has an 'absolute maximum' of five weeks to get a new heart as his life support machine starts to experience complications (pictured right with his father Chris)

'When you're having the conversations with consultants and they're telling you it's three cardiac arrests it doesn't register.

'You hear what's being said but it doesn't register.

'When you go outside in the ward and see your little boy with tubes going in and out of his body you think 'Why is this happening again?'.'

Sarah and Chris have been keeping a round-the-clock vigil at his bedside at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital
Sarah and Chris have been keeping a round-the-clock vigil at his bedside at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital

Sarah and Chris have been keeping a round-the-clock vigil at his bedside at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital

When the couple felt ready to try for another child they were monitored by medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Newcastle, and given fortnightly scans.

The couple say there was no cause for concern throughout the pregnancy and we excited about welcoming their son in the New Year.

But at their 37 week scan the sonographer realised Carter's weight had dropped from 5lb 10oz to 5lb 9oz in the space of two weeks.

Medics decided Carter should be delivered via c-section.

Despite initially taking to feeds from his mum, within a few hours Carter was rushed to the special care baby unit at the RVI after his temperature dropped and his heart rate was becoming irregular.

The next day Carter was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Freeman's Hospital.

He was put on an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine in the hope of giving his lungs and heart a chance to rest.

Doctors discussed fitting Carter with a pacemaker but he had dead tissue in his left ventricle, meaning his heart would be unable to pump blood without the machine.

Sarah added: 'Some morning we see him opening his eyes open and his little arms moving but at the same time it is bitter sweet.

Sarah and Carter
Sarah and Carter
Sarah and Carter
Sarah and Carter

Carter's mother Sarah (pictured above) said the family are living on nerves

'We are just living off our nerves with no sleep, praying so very hard.

'If he wasn't on the ECMO machine his heart would not work and he would not be with us.'

Sarah and Christopher lost their first-born Charlie in 2013 after a mystery progressive disease.

Just hours after being born in December 2011 Charlie developed respiratory syncytial virus, which turned septic and led to him being admitted to intensive care.

Early 2012 Charlie was admitted to hospital four times with breathing difficulties and high blood pressure with an EGG showing Charlie also had epilepsy.

The couple also have another child called Charlie 
The couple also have another child called Charlie 

The couple also have another child called Charlie 

With his seizures increasing doctors carried out a brain biopsy, lumbar puncture and skin biopsy but were unable to diagnose the illness.

Over the next 18 months Charlie's seizures intensified and were even taking place while he was sleeping. He passed away on 29 October 2013.

Devastated by the loss of their first-born the couple decided to set up the Charlie Cookson Foundation which financially supports parents of seriously ill children.

Now having spent the past two weeks at Freeman Hospital's Scott House both Sarah and Christopher are holding onto hope that they can avoid another tragic loss.

'There have been a few times when we've been able to act like a proper Mummy and Daddy where we've been able to change his nappy albeit through the wires,' said Sarah.

'But every day we know this may not be for long as we've only got a few weeks left with the machine.

'We're living in Scott House and every time we hear the phone ring we're expecting the worse. That phone doesn't ring without a reason.

'Last night a withheld number phoned and we thought that was it. It's the worst feeling.

'Doctors have said because it's such a rare ask, Carter is at the top of a list for a transplant.

'But even though that works in his favour, it seems like the most impossible ask.' 

 

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