A BATTLING youngster is set to reach his second birthday after defying all the odds.
Proud parents Nicola, 34, and John Butterfield, 38, cuddled their son Adam and looked back on a roller coaster 24 months for the youngster who was born with one of the rarest conditions in the world.
"The doctors told us he might not come out of infanthood," said John.
"You cannot prepare yourself for something like that.
"But he's coming on great now. He can say 'mam, dog and more', but mam is his favourite.
John joked: "Our dog Harvey has come a long way as well. He comes right up close to Adam, so he can pat him.
"Adam claps along to his favourite songs and he loves his toys like Iggle Piggle and the Hungry Caterpillar."
Adam has a condition called Emanuel syndrome, which is so rare there are only 200 known cases in existence. It involves an abnormality in his chromosomes which affects every cell in his body.
He was born weighing 8lbs 2ozs at 3.57am on Sunday, January 18, 2009, at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and started showing the signs of health problems within 24 hours.
His parents, from Brecon Close, in Peterlee, were told he could suffer from a string of health conditions including heart seizures, kidney failure, asphyxiation, severe mental health problems and an inability to walk or talk.
But Adam is proving to be a battler and will celebrate his second birthday tomorrow.
John, a team leader for Barclays, in Sunderland, said: "He is "happy and alert.
"He knows what is going on around him.
"If you look back to where he was a year ago, he is doing really well."
Some sufferers of Emanuel syndrome do not live beyond childhood, but others are known to have lived into their 60s.
Nicola, an administration worker with Stockton Borough Council, said Adam still had many health difficulties to face. His left hip bone has not developed at all and may affect his future ability to walk.
"He also has a 29 per cent curvature of the spine," she added.
"We are seeing a specialist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle next month. They wanted to wait until he was two before deciding whether to operate, whether to put him into plaster or whether to put him on a jacket for 20-hours-a-day.
"His immune system is not functioning properly either. He has had all his injections for things like MMR, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza and he has not responded to any one of these.
"He has daily antibiotics to try and help him, but they do not always work and he has had over 12 hospital admissions in the last 12 months mainly with chest infections.
"He does seem to be getting stronger though and seems to recover quicker than he used to so that is positive news."
There are other positives, too, says Nicola.
"He goes to Howletch Nursery two days a week and he loves it. Before he went, he did not interact with other children, but now he gets excited and claps his hands when he sees them because he knows they will come and play with him.
"He responds quite a lot compared to what he did before."