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VIDEO: Mum tells of agonising life or death decision

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A MOTHER has told of the agonising moment she had to decide whether to switch off her son’s life support machine – and her joy that he pulled through.

Even when Charlie Burke was in a coma, his mother Anne never gave up hope that he would recover.

One year on, eight year-old Charlie, is back on his feet – and Mrs Burke says feels blessed to still have him by her side.

The ordeal began for Mrs Burke, of Finchale Road, Hebburn, with a freak accident at home last May.

She was at her front door with Charlie, who was born with learning difficulties, in her arms as they waved goodbye to her partner, Chris Coyne.

She said: “We were coming back inside and I missed the step and fell over. Charlie took the impact on his head. She took Charlie, a pupil at Keelman’s Way School, to the Palmer Community Hospital, in Jarrow, and then South Tyneside District Hospital, where it was thought he had suffered concussion and he was sent home.

That night, his condition worsened and he was rushed back to hospital and transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where a scan revealed he had a bleed on his brain and had suffered a life-threatening brain stem injury.

Charlie underwent surgery to stop the bleeding but fell into a coma for two weeks. His parents faced the agonising decision of whether or not to turn off his life support machine.

Mrs Burke said: “The doctors said he probably wasn’t going to make it or that if he did pull through he wouldn’t be able to do anything for himself, but I didn’t believe that. I stayed positive the whole time.”

After waking from his coma, Charlie had to have a tracheostomy tube fitted to help him breath and had to undergo intense physiotherapy to learn how to walk again.

Now the youngster is back on his feet and loves running around the garden, playing football and swingball.

He needs to use a wheelchair for long journeys, has a splint on his right leg and wears a safety helmet at school to protect his head.

Mrs Burke added: “The doctors told me three times that Charlie wasn’t going to make it but I told them to give him back to me and I would do the rest. I’m so proud of him and how far he’s come. He’s learnt how to walk again, had his tracheostomy taken out, and has had no medication at all since the day he woke up.

“He has a little bit of weakness down his right side but he’s doing so well. He’s my miracle child.”

“Charlie is proof of why you should never give up hope. I was scared but I never thought he was going to die. I just knew there was no way I was only being given him for seven years.

“I hope no family ever has to go through what we’ve been through, but if they do, all I’ll say to them is there’s always hope.

“Always believe in your child.”

BRAVE Charlie Burke’s family organised a fundraising night to thank the charity which helped them.

While Charlie was in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Mrs Burke, Charlie’s father, Graham, 42, and sister Molly, were able to stay nearby thanks to The Sick Children’s Trust.

The family made the most of the hospital’s free accommodation in Crawford House, so that they could be with him all hours of the day.

Mrs Burke organised a fundraising night at the Iona Club, in Station Road, Hebburn, and raised £2,500.

The evening included a raffle and auction, and a Little Mix tribute performance from Molly and her friends.

She said: “I think that us being there with Charlie so much is part of what helped him pull through. Crawford House is just amazing.

“We were there for two months and it made such a massive difference.  

“There’s no way we could have been there for Charlie as often as we were if we’d had to travel back and forward every day.

“The fundraising night was such a huge success. I couldn’t believe how generous people were.

“Everyone I knew wanted a ticket and people I’d never met were buying them too. I’m amazed at how much we raised and just want to say thank you.”

 

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