JUST a few months ago, Frankie Mould was fighting for life after his little body was attacked by a flesh-eating bug.
Doctors feared the worst as family gathered round his hospital bed to say prayers for the toddler.
Today, Frankie is unrecognisable, celebrating his second birthday after he bravely battled back to life.
Surrounded by friends, the Hylton Castle youngster, labelled the “titanium toddler” by mum Lucy, enjoyed cake and presents on the day his family feared he would never see.
Lucy, 26, said: “It’s been an emotional year. When I look back at everything we’ve been through, I can’t believe we’ve made it to his second birthday.”
In April, Frankie spent 12 days in a medically-induced coma after a flesh-eating virus forced doctors to remove skin from his back, chest, and one leg.
As Frankie’s dad, Wayne, 25, and Lucy kept vigil by their son’s bed. The community near where he lived said prayers in church for the youngster’s recovery.
Surgeons at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary were forced to cut right down to the muscle in a bid to stop the infection, known as Nacrotising Fascitis, eating his whole body.
A series of painful and complicated skin grafts followed, in which surgeons took sections of healthy skin from Frankie’s body to help repair the damaged areas.
Described as the “sickest boy in the country” by medics at the RVI, Frankie still faces ongoing plastic surgery in a desperate effort to heal parts of his body devoured by the bug.
But, as he recovers at home, Frankie is proving a true fighter.
Lucy, also mum to Kayne, three, said: “We had the party yesterday so all his friends could be there, even though his actual birthday isn’t until tomorrow.
“We decided to have a blessing at church on Sunday for both the boys, we wanted to do something special to mark the day.”
Frankie’s brother Wayne was born with a life-threatening hole in his abdomen and had to endure three major operations.
The family say they have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from people across Wearside, and are now trying to raise awareness of Nacrotising Fascitis and its devastating effects.
Friends united in adversity
Lucy and her family have been supported during Frankie’s recovery by Doreen Marsden.
Doreen’s son, Lee, died from Nacrotising Fascitis on October 6, 1999.
In January 2000, Doreen set up the Lee Sparks NF Foundation to help and support other families who had been affected by the disease.
Lucy said: “Doreen has become a good friend and has offered us so much support.”
NF, commonly known as flesh-eating disease or flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, is a rare infection of the deeper layers of skin, easily spreading across the body.
For more information visit www. nfsuk.org.uk.