A COUPLE from South Tyneside are warning other parents of the dangers lurking in the home after their baby fell 9ft.
David and Kelly Murphy thought they were going to lose their son, Jonah after he fell through the bannister at the top of their stairs.
The accident happened on the first day the tot had began walking unaided – two days before his first birthday.
The youngster suffered a fractured skull after he fell through the gap in the spindles onto the tiled floor below him.
He spent two days in hospital, but has since returned home to Crawley Avenue, Hebburn, where he lives with his parents and five-year-old brother, Flynn.
Now his parents are hoping to prevent other families from going through something similar.
Mrs Murphy, 33, who is due to begin a children’s nursing course in March, said: “When I saw him lying there on the floor, I thought that was it.
“I thought we were going to lose him or that if he survived he wouldn’t be the same little boy he was before.
“By some miracle, he’s OK, and if anything good can come from this, it’ll be preventing another family from having to go through a similar situation, one where the outcome might not be as positive.”
Mrs Murphy was in the kitchen while her husband, 39, a Nissan worker, was upstairs with Jonah.
She said: “Dave was in the bedroom and Jonah was on the landing. The safety gate was closed so we didn’t think anything of it.
“We had been worried about the spindles and checked to see if his head fit through a few months ago and it didn’t.
“But we didn’t notice that the gap between the end spindle and the wall is six inches – one inch bigger than the rest of the gaps – and we think that’s the one he fell through.
“I just heard this thud and I screamed and swooped straight in to pick him up. I think it took a couple of seconds for Jonah to realise what happened and then he started screaming.
“Dave rang an ambulance and the paramedics were here within three minutes, and they were amazing.”
Jonah was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital and given X-rays and a CT scan before being transferred to the neurology department at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Jonah’s orbital bone above his left eye was fractured and a fragment of bone had detached.
Doctors were worried the injury could damage the ligaments and he could need surgery, but now, he has nothing to worry about except his huge black eye.
Mrs Murphy said: “Up until the results of the CT scan came in, we were scared that we were going to lose Jonah. It was horrific but thankfully there was no bleeding on his brain.
“Now we just want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Some of my friends have already been in touch to say they’re worried.
“We just want people to check their own stairs to make sure this couldn’t happen to them too. We never imagined it was possible.”
She added: “I have to thank the staff at both the hospitals and the paramedics too. Everyone was just amazing and they really got us through it.”
Mike Telford, a building contract surveyor for South Tyneside Council, said that regulations state the gap between spindles must be no bigger than four inches.
He said: “The test is to get a 100mm (4inch) sphere and make sure that it doesn’t fit through the gap.”