A BRAVE youngster is all smiles despite being unable to hold down solid food without being violently sick.
Two-year-old Connor Coultas has been unable to swallow food for almost 18 months, much to the dismay of his loving family.
In order to get the nutrients he needs the Hartlepool youngster has a small feeding tube inserted straight into his stomach through a cap every three hours.
Devoted parents Alastair Coultas and Kelly Adams say it is devastating to watch, and they have put their wedding plans on hold until Connor is better.
They have been reassured by medics that he should grow out of it and is making good progress.
It doesn’t stop him leading a normal life though as he attends Cherry Tree Nursery with his twin sister Ruby.
Full-time mum Kelly, 26, said: “It is heartbreaking to see your child struggling.
“It has been horrendous really because we do not know what has caused it.
“He just cannot seem to keep solids down and he chokes on his food.
“It is especially hard at Christmas and Easter when everybody else is eating chocolate, but he can’t.”
The youngster needs to be fed through the gastrostomy tube every three hours until 11pm at night, and then first thing when he wakes up.
Kelly and Alastair, 32, who works for Hartlepool Borough Council as a school crossing patrol officer, live in Masefield Road with Kelly’s other son Bradley Adams, three.
Connor, who weighed 5lbs 3oz, and Ruby, who weighed in at 7lbs 3oz, were born on November 19, 2008, at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
The pair were born healthy, but Connor started to develop problems when he reached seven months.
Kelly said: “Connor has had several scans and we have been to the University Hospital of Hartlepool for several check-ups but it was all a bit of a mystery.
“The doctors have told us that children that are born small can sometimes have problems eating or drinking so we will have to wait and see.
“We have been told to keep feeding him solids to encourage him.”
Kelly, who thanked medical staff and family members for their support, added: “Although she picks at her food, Ruby is fine.
“The twins are very close, and Ruby keeps a close eye on her brother.”
The family have regular appointments at the Holdforth Road hospital and are due to meet consultants again in August.
Jaget Jani, clinical director for paediatrics at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In cases where children are small or arrive early, they quite often take some time to grow.
“They can often have problems with things that are normal for other children, for example walking, talking, eating and drinking.
“We’ve been supporting Connor and his devoted parents, and we’re delighted with his progress.”