Just look at him now!
A Sunderland youngster who has twice had his skull rebuilt has been hailed as a ‘little warrior’ and a ‘mini superhero’ by his family for the brave way he has battled back to health.
Clayton Strand has spent most of his young life in and out of hospital as he receives treatment for a range of serious problems.
The five-year-old was born with a condition known as craniosynosis, which means that the bones of his skull had fused together before birth.
At just eight months old, Clayton had to undergo a life-changing operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in October 2013, to have his skull rebuilt.
The surgery has left the Downhill youngster with a scar from one ear to the other.
Mum Natalie Strand, 34, said: “The sides of his head were flat, so it was causing pressure on the brain.
“At eight months old he had to have his skull rebuilt to alleviate the pressure and make the head more round.
“The surgery lasted six hours and he had to spent seven days in Birmingham afterwards.”
After battling through all the odds, Clayton’s health took a turn for the worse once again in October 2014, when he suffered kidney reflux, meaning he had to have a kidney removed at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Then in September 2015, Clayton had to undergo further surgery to have his toes straightened after experiencing problems with walking.
Just a year later, in September 2016, Clayton had to have his skull rebuilt a second time after pressure built up once more around his brain.
This time the brave little boy had to have metal rods fitted to make the back of the skull larger to alleviate pressure.
Mum Natalie added: “I had to turn the rods fitted in his skull twice a day, every day for eight weeks to stop the pressure rebuilding again.
“In January 2017 he had the rods removed and he has had no more operations since, but he may need further surgery on his skull in the future.”
Clayton’s bravery had been recognised by way of a Best of Wearside Child of Courage nomination, which saw him put forward by his sister Leah Strand, 16.
Her nomination said: “Clayton is only five and been through all of this yet he doesn’t let anything get in his way.
“He loves school and has some great friends, Clayton has to visit hospital in Birmingham with my mum every year to see his consultants.
“I wanted to nominate him as I think he is an incredible little boy and a mini superhero.”
Despite his health troubles Clayton still manages to attend St John Bosco RC Primary School in Sunderland where support from staff has seen him come on leaps and bounds.
His parents Natalie and George, who are also parents to daughter Laurie, 13, say they couldn’t be more proud of Clayton’s bravery.
Natalie continued: “He is not phased by it at all.
“A few days after his surgery he even wanted to get up and play.
“We are so proud of him and we think he is an inspiration for the way he is coping with a condition that many people haven’t heard about.
“It just shows that it doesn’t matter how bad things can be, you can get on with your life.
“He is our little warrior.”
This year’s Best of Wearside Awards has backing from headline sponsor BGL Group, partner sponsor Gentoo and category sponsors Stagecoach and Calsonic Kansei.
We thank them all for getting on board, and now comes your turn to get involved.
Send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable.
Remember to include the category you are putting your nominated cause into. Also, send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known). Send all of that to Lynn Wild before March 1.
You can nominate in any one of three ways:
* Email those entries to email@example.com.
* Send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.
* Visit the website at www.bestofwearside.co.uk.
Student of the Year.
Fundraiser of the Year.
Volunteer of the Year.
Child of Achievement.
Child of Courage.