Adam on eve of taking first steps

Adam Butterfield with his mum Nicola McAllister and dad John Butterfield. Picture by FRANK REID
Adam Butterfield with his mum Nicola McAllister and dad John Butterfield. Picture by FRANK REID

BRAVE little boy Adam Butterfield could soon be making his mum and dad’s wishes come true – by walking for the first time.

The Peterlee youngster has a condition so rare there are only 200 cases in the world.

He has already needed a string of operations for the problems caused by Emanuel Syndrome, a chromosome abnormality affecting every cell in his tiny body.

There are only 12 reported cases of the syndrome in the UK.

Experts have told his parents Nicola McAllister, 36, and dad John Butterfield, 40, – who have relatives in Hartlepool – that Adam could suffer from a string of health conditions including heart seizures, kidney failure, asphyxiation, severe mental health problems and an inability to talk.

But they also initially predicted he would never walk yet battling Adam may be ready to prove them wrong.

It’s all down to his latest operation in which surgeons rotated his hip and put the lower half of his body in plaster.

The cast was removed on Monday, and once he has undergone physiotherapy, he could take those momentous first steps.

“Adam had a big operation on his hip,” said Nicola.

“He is doing quite well and I am quite pleased.

“The operation went well and now the plaster is off he might be able to take his first few steps because his hip won’t dislocate any more. He is in a special harness and he will be reviewed in eight weeks.”

The three-and-a-half hour operation was carried out at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and was known as a femeral osteotomy.

Nicola, who lives in the Acre Rigg area of Peterlee, said: “They cut the thigh bone and rotated his hip. They stuck them up with pins to stop the hip from dislocating.

“His ball joint was not a normal shape. Instead of being round it was shaped like a rugby ball.”

She said the operation should hold his ball joint in place.

But Adam’s progress was already good before his latest operation. Nicola said: “He had just learned to stand unaided for 30 seconds. He was doing it on his own but he has not taken any steps yet. We are hoping the operation gets him there.”

But that extra special moment may still be some way off as Nicola explained: “He is probably going to be six to 12 months from taking steps. he will need a lot of physiotherapy now he is out of plaster but it is good news.”

Adam will need care for the rest of his life. Some sufferers do not live beyond childhood, but others are known to have lived into their 60s.

John, a former Army Lance Corporal, previously admitted to the Mail his son’s health problems were harder for him to fight than the 10 years he spent in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq with the Royal Engineers between 1989 and 1999.

Adam arrived in the world eight days late at the University Hospital of Hartlepool weighing 8lb 2oz at 3.57am on Sunday, January 18, 2009.