An Irish family will spend the next sixth months at the hospital bedside of their eight-month-old baby who’s awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Little Oscar McLaughlin has already spent Christmas and the New Year in hospital after being diagnosed with Server Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) in December – a condition where the immune system is so highly compromised that it is considered almost absent.
The rare disorder, also known as the ‘bubble boy’ disease, makes Oscar so extremely vulnerable to infection that he must be kept in a bubble-like sterile environment in order to avoid catching life-threatening diseases or infections while he awaits the transplant that will cure him.
After being born seemingly fit and healthy last year, Oscar featured in The Irish Post pages at only eight week’s old, attending his first All-Britain Fleadh in Preston last July.
At that stage his parents Olivia and Pearce were unaware they would soon receive the devastating news that their son was one of the few diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening disorder and that their family life in Co. Derry was about to change dramatically.
Olivia’s sister Moya Henderson lives in Leicester. She said: “On December 19 Oscar was taken seriously ill and was admitted to Coleraine Hospital with double pneumonia. He was transferred from there to the intensive care unit in The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast a week later where they diagnosed the SCID.
“There are no hospitals equipped to deal with such cases locally and only two in England – one in Newcastle and one in London. So he was then flown to the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle who specialise in treating the disorder.”
The best cure for the disease is a bone marrow transplant and luckily a 100 per cent match has been found for Oscar.
However, his weak state means it could take six months before he is well enough to undergo the transplant procedure.
In the meantime his mother Olivia is stuck to his bedside in Newcastle and his father is back and forth from their Portstewart home every weekend.
Moya claims the cost of staying in Newcastle is mounting on the already pressured family.
The concerned auntie, a member of the Comhaltas group in Leicester, has gathered some support from her fellow musicians to try to help them.
Brian Smith, chairman of the Leicester branch, told The Irish Post: “Oscar is likely to be in Newcastle for another half a year, and his mum has had to move over to be with him.
“With dad coming every weekend this is seeing them incur many additional expenses at an already stressful time.
“So we decided to hold a fundraising event to help raise some finances to assist them and to gather donations of toys or high-chairs, anything that could be donated to this ward in this important children’s hospital. We hope as many people will support us and come along to our night as possible to support baby Oscar.”
Leicester CCE’s fundraising event will take place at the Sacred Heart Parish rooms in Mere Road, Leicester on Saturday, February 25 at 7.30pm.
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If you wish to enquire about how to help the family contact us at fionaaudley@http://http://irishpost.co.uk.