TODAY is a big day for little Jack Wilkinson – one his parents feared he wouldn’t see.
The brave four-year-old, of Sidney Street, Boldon Colliery, has spent the last month in hospital battling a rare disease, but is being allowed out to don a cap and gown for his nursery school graduation.
For his parents, Martin Wilkinson and Keren Burdett, 29, the event at Ashfield Nursery, in South Shields, will be emotional.
Jack, who is due to start at West Boldon Primary in September, took ill on June 16, and has been diagnosed with atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS) – a genetic condition that causes uncontrolled activation of his body’s immune system – and is a one-in-a-million condition in under fives.
Martin said: “Jack has been absolutely amazing. We thought we were going to lose him.
“His graduation will be the first time he’s been away from hospital in a month and he’s really excited to see all of his friends. I think it’ll be a very emotional day for us.
“In the first two days, he was seriously ill and the consultants told us those days were critical. It’s incredible that he’s come through all of this.”
Martin, 34, a customer service advisor for energy company EDF, said: “We noticed that something was wrong, but we thought he just had a tummy bug because he was still his normal self.
“But in the early hours he got worse, and we took him straight to A&E at South Tyneside District Hospital.
“His blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof so they transferred him to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for observation.”
Doctors gave Jack an ultrasound and found that his kidneys were inflamed and another scan on his heart showed it wasn’t functioning properly. He was transferred to the city’s Freeman Hospital for specialist heart care.
The next day, he was diagnosed with AHUS and has been back at the RVI for three weeks. Jack has had three operations, physiotherapy, and was put on kidney dialysis 24 hours a day.
Now, he is out of intensive care, but his kidneys are working at just 30 per cent of their capacity, although his dialysis has been cut down to 12-hour sessions.
The family will have to wait and see if his kidneys improve or if he will need a transplant.
Martin added: “Things are starting to get back to normal now and we’re getting our little boy back.”