BABY Oliver Gleeson has been back in hospital fighting for breath after he was struck down with a potentially-fatal cold.
The 19-month-old has been on a ventilator at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary since he was hit by the virus, despite the fact it would be harmless to most children his age.
But for a little boy like Oliver, born with half a heart, a run-of-the-mill cold is life-threatening.
Fortunately, he has now recovered and returned home.
Mum Joanne and dad Sean, of Plains Farm in Sunderland, have suffered a difficult 19 months, having had to watch their son undergo multiple operations as he battled for life.
Now the family, including big brother Jack, six, have faced more agony after Oliver was taken back into hospital.
Joanne, who won I Love Mum, the Echo’s Mother’s Day competition earlier this year, said: “We are going back to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle in July for more tests to be carried out – MRI scans, CT scans and lots more.
“The doctors will then decide if they are able to perform any more surgery or not.
“We have been told that due to the damage already caused to his heart, Oliver is not suitable for a heart transplant.
“We both hope more surgery will be possible to give him more time and a better quality of life, but we know his heart is not fixable.”
A scan at 22 weeks had initially raised concerns that Joanne’s unborn son’s heart had not formed properly.
Medics had suggested the family might want to consider the option of a termination, but Joanne refused.
Oliver was born eight weeks premature on October 6, 2012, weighing 4lb.
Joanne, 43, said: “The doctors didn’t expect he would survive.”
After six weeks in Sunderland Royal Hospital, he was transferred to the Freeman Hospital for the first of nine operations in 12 months.
Last October, Oliver’s respiratory system failed, and the family were told to prepare themselves for the worst. However, an emergency tracheostomy saved him.
Now, as the family prepare for more tests later this year, they say that in between his bouts of illness, Oliver remains a happy and content little boy.
Joanne added: “He’s always smiling.”