LUKE Newman–Leadbitter has had the battle of his life.
He has overcome a health struggle which started when he was born 21 months ago.
He almost died three times, underwent numerous operations including heart surgery, and he was given just a week to live after his parents were told by medics there was nothing they could do for him.
But the “little fighter” is triumphing – he has been allowed home for the first time since he was born, having spent all of his short life in health institutions.
“It’s great that Luke is home and we can be a proper family,” said his delighted mum Nicola Leadbitter, 27, from Peterlee Close, Peterlee.
“The doctors told us about two months ago that he could be well enough to come home and we were counting down the days.
“We are grateful for every minute with him.”
Luke suffers from Charge syndrome, a genetic condition which affects the ears, eyes, heart, nasal passages, genitals, and growth and requires round-the-clock care.
Over the first nine months of his life, Luke underwent five operations on his heart and had a tracheostomy to help him breathe.
He also had a pacemaker fitted and a tube fitted into his stomach for feeding.
In October 2011, Luke was transferred from the Freeman Hospital back to the RVI, but his condition deteriorated.
Nicola said: “The doctors told us they couldn’t do anything else for Luke as he couldn’t have any more operations on his heart.
“They couldn’t find out why his heart rate kept dropping or why he kept getting infections.
“We both knew what was going to be said next.”
The couple were moved into St Oswald’s Hospice, in Newcastle, while doctors gave Luke just one week to live.
But after just one week in the hospice, Luke improved, thanks to trips out, a sensory room and interaction with other children.
He had his first birthday at the hospice and “is coming on really well”, said Nicola.
“I’m so surprised that our little man has come this far – he has really surprised everyone.”