Young Sunderland lionheart is winning his health battle

Leo Makin pictured with his dad Daniel and mum Lauren.
Leo Makin pictured with his dad Daniel and mum Lauren.
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Courageous Leo Makin has had the best news possible - he’s winning the battle with a hole in his heart,

The two-year-old from Sunderland has just had a review of his condition at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Leo Makin pictured with his dad Daniel and mum Lauren.

Leo Makin pictured with his dad Daniel and mum Lauren.

Mum Lauren Howat, 24, and dad Daniel Makin, 26, got the fantastic news.

“I was over the moon and there were tears of happiness,” said Lauren who is a healthcare assistant. “There is no longer a hole. It has closed up.”

The only remaining sign of any health issue is a slight leak in a patch on Leo’s heart but there are high hopes that will disappear as well.

When Leo was born, he was found to have a heart murmur, which was thought to have gone by the time he had left hospital where he was being treated for a separate issue which was over fears about extra fluid on his brain.

He is clever and he understands. He talks about his heart and he says it was a lion who scratched his chest

Lauren Howat

But it wasn’t until a final consultation, with Leo a year old, that the holes in the heart were found.

Leo was swiftly taken to the Freeman where the open heart surgery was carried out.

Now comes the news that any remaining heart problems are hopefully behind him.

Lauren added: “He has still got to go for check-ups but his next one isn’t until next October and if things go the way they are, it will be every two years after that and then every four.

“He will have to go for check-ups, possibly for the rest of his life but there is a good chance he can live a normal life.”

It’s a great boost for the little boy who won a Child of Courage trophy at last year’s Best of Wearside Awards but was too ill to be there on the night.

He suffered a nasty bout of the skin condition impetigo and it covered his body. Soon after, he was taken to hospital where staff had to insert a needle into a blister to test the fluid.

In the end, it cleared up itself within a fortnight.

Leo eventually received his trophy and mum said: “He didn’t quite understand what it was at the time.

“But he gets it now. He is quite clever and he talks about his heart.”

The courageous little boy tells people that he has a poorly heart because “a lion scratched it,” said his mum.

And while he might not yet realise the importance of what he has achieved at the awards, Lauren knows exactly what it means.

“He made us so proud,” she said. “The trophy is something that, when he is older, we can show it for him to be proud of himself.”

This year’s awards are underway and Lauren urged people to enter. She said: “It is definitely worth it. I was over the moon when Leo won and I was devastated that we could not be there.”

There’s more good news as well for Leo.

He will start at South Hylton Primary School in January when he will also celebrate his third birthday.

We have now started the search to find this year’s successors to Leo.

The Best of Wearside Awards 2016 are under way with some fantastic backers.

Sponsors in this year’s competition are Calsonic Kansei, Gentoo, Vantec, Station Taxis, TWR, and Sunderland Live.

To nominate, just 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 5pm on Friday, December 30, 2016,

Email those entries to or send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.ap