The little boy who fights chest infections all winter

Brave little battler Gray Crone - who has to fight through a string of chest infections each winter - has come through it with his fighting spirit intact and with a Best of Wearside Awards nomination.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 6:37 pm
Gray as a baby.

The 18-month-old from Red House in Sunderland has a condition so rare that only one in 3,500 children are diagnosed with it.

He has tranche-oesophageal fistula (TOF), a condition where part of the oesophagus is joined to the windpipe.

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Infants who have it find it difficult to swallow, causing frothy, white bubbles in the mouth, coughing or choking when feeding and even vomiting.

In Gray’s case, every winter is an uphill battle because he picks up so many infections.

And that’s exactly what has happened over the last few months.

Mum Danielle, 33, said her little boy “has had a rough winter.

“He has constantly had chest infections and it’s a tough time for him from October to March. It really wears him down.

“He is constantly coughing all the time because he has a TOF cough.”

The Echo first revealed Gray’s story last August. He was a healthy 8lbs-plus when he was born in July 2017 but Danielle soon noticed there was a problem.

While he was being fed, he was ‘quite frothy and bringing up mucus’.

Child of Courage nominee Gray Crone with mum Danielle.

Then, he went blue and had to be taken for tests at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“That’s when he was sent through straight away to the RVI in Newcastle in an ambulance,” said Danielle last summer.

After being diagnosed with the condition, Gray underwent an operation at just three days old in which surgeons went in through his back to remove part of his oesophagus, which was then a dead muscle due to his condition and something which left him unable to swallow properly.

The oesophagus had to be unjoined from the windpipe and then connected to Gray’s stomach.

Child of Courage nominee Gray Crone

Following the op, Gray was put in intensive care for a week, but since then he has continued to make good progress.

Now, he becomes the first nomination in this year’s Child of Courage section of the Best of Wearside Awards.

Delighted mum Danielle, who is married to Gray’s dad Chris, 37, who works offshore, and is also mum to Elsie, 7, described the nomination as ‘fabulous’ and said it would also help raise awareness of the condition that Gray and other children have.

In another boost for the little boy, he has also started nursery at Tavistock House and Danielle said: “He goes one morning a week and it is really bringing him on.”

We’ve got off to a great start with nominations for this year’s awards, but we want plenty more and here are lots more details on the 2019 competition.

This year’s competition has backing from headline sponsor BGL Group, partner sponsor Gentoo and category sponsors Stagecoach and Calsonic Kansei.

Child of Courage nominee Gray Crone with mum Danielle and dad Kris.

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 by no later than mid-February.

You can nominate in any one of three ways.

l Email those entries to [email protected]

l Send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

l Visit the website at

Once we pass the competition deadline, the panel of judges will meet days later to draw up this year’s shortlist of contenders.

Those who are still in the running will learn their fate at the glittering grand finale on Thursday, March 28. Watch out for more details on that coming soon.

After the event, we’ll bring you a supplement with photographs and interviews from the night.

But for now, the main thing is to get those entries in!

The categories

Local Hero.

Green Champion.

Student of the Year.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year.

Sporting Achievement.

Community Group.

Community Champion.

Child of Achievement.

Child of Courage.