DESPITE being just a toddler, brave Charlie Cookson has dealt with more pain than most adults would in their entire lives.
The 21-month-old has baffled doctors since he was born with a host of medical issues including epilepsy, brittle bone disease and a blood disorder which means his body cannot create a robust defence against infection.
Now Charlie, who has been at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for the last three months, has undergone surgery to have sections of his brain’s grey and white matter removed during a biopsy, along with skin samples and a lumber puncture, in a bid to get his condition diagnosed.
Mum Sarah Cookson, from Simonside in South Shields, said: “I was devastated when he came out of theatre and we saw the scar.
“We were told it would be the size of a 50 pence piece, but it’s more like the size of a £10 note.
“We’re just hoping all his lovely hair grows back as soon as possible to try and cover it.
“It was a hard decision to allow him to have the procedures done in the first place.
“No parent wants their child to go through pain, most only have to decide what their kids want for tea, but we have to regularly face things like this – it’s very difficult.
“But hopefully if we can establish what’s causing Charlie’s problems it will give us a better chance of trying to help him, instead of using medications which assist one area but cause issues in another.”
Charlie’s samples are now being studied by experts and his mam, and dad Chris Cookson, are expecting the results next Tuesday.
The family are also remaining optimistic that the tot, who is currently on antibiotics fighting an infection, may be allowed home in February.
Sarah, 37, who runs the Sarah Howe Cookson School of Dance in Harton, South Shields, said: “The ‘H’ word has been mentioned but we’re not getting our hopes up.
“Things change with Charlie so much, it’s been a long stint in hospital, three months this time, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
“We’re a bit apprehensive about the results – if they’ll find anything new, or if they will give us the answers we’re looking for.
“We just never know anything with our Charlie, he’s always taking us by surprise.
“We have no idea if he will ever walk, but he’s so strong, so while he’s still little we’re not ruling anything out yet.”
Charlie’s home is being adapted for his arrival, with specialist medical equipment, and fun sensory toys for him to enjoy.
In a bid to help boost funds, and hopefully purchase him a jacuzzi style-bath with bubbles, a bag-packing fundraiser will be held at Asda South Shields, in Coronation Street, on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be two shifts, from 10am-1pm and then from 1pm-4pm.
Sarah added: “So many people are helping out already, even people we’ve never met, it’s wonderful.
“We have about 20 shifts to fill, so if people want to come along to help then we’d be very grateful.
“He’s always needing new and bigger equipment, while some are provided like hoists and his bed, many things aren’t.
“We want to make sure he has as many fun things, like sensory equipment and bubble baths, as possible to help him enjoy his life.”
To take part in the bag-packing event, e-mail Sarah at email@example.com.