Sarah and Chris Cookson launch #findaheartforcarter in transplant appeal for their baby boy

A couple who lost their first child to a mystery illness have now been given a five-week deadline to find a heart to save the life of their newborn son.

Sarah Cookson cuddles her newborn son Carter for the first time.
Sarah Cookson cuddles her newborn son Carter for the first time.

Parents Sarah and Chris Cookson welcomed their son Carter into the world on Boxing Day and have been keeping a bedside vigil for their boy after he was born with heart problems.

The South Shields couple, who lost their two-year-old boy Charlie in 2013 due to a mystery medical condition, have now been told he will need a transplant to survive.

Carter is being cared for in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where he has already undergone surgery to fit a pacemaker, but he has not responded to the treatment.Now the family says he needs a new heart or a “miracle” to save his life as he continues to be helped by an ECMO - extracorporeal membrane oxygenation - machine.

It comes after Sarah was able to cuddle her little fighter for the first time as he continues to be helped by life support.

In a post on Facebook, Sarah, who runs the Sarah Howe Cookson School of Dance, said: “It has taken us a few days to get our head round the news from the consultants, we still can’t.

“Our boy has not responded to the surgery and the only way he will survive is if he gets a new heart or by some miracle his heart begins to pump blood around his body.

Carter Cookson was born on Boxing Day.


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“He is on the transplant list but we need as much awareness out there as possible.

“We need a heart in five weeks or we will lose our beautiful baby boy.

“His life support ECMO machine only lasts a maximum of six to eight weeks that’s if there are no complications.

“The Freeman doctors and nurses are doing all they can to support his other organs as we pray for a heart.


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Chris Cookson keeps a vigil by his son's hospital bed.

“I can’t put into words how heart broken we all are, but we will never give up on him.”

She added they want the message to be spread wide through social media to help their search and awareness of their case and has created the hashtag #findaheartforcarter so people can follow the appeal.

Carter suffered three cardiac arrests shortly after he was born due to his heart not beating correctly.


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The Charlie Cookson Foundation was set up by the couple and helps offer financial support families of seriously ill children.

Sarah and Chris Cookson.

Sarah and Chris, along with a team of helpers, have devoted their time to helping others, with more than 50 families helped so far as they face the financial burden of essential nursing facilities, bills, rent and other money difficulties that arise from full-time care.

Charlie, who won the South Tyneside Child of Courage Award months before his death, received regular hospital treatment for muscle and bone problems before also suffering from a blood disorder and a series of illnesses including meningitis.


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He spent most of his life in hospital and underwent a series of operations and in early 2012, tests revealed he also had epilepsy.

The Cookson family have made a record of the day with one of his milestone cards.
Charlie Cookson.