Birthday milestone for boy born with half a heart

celebration: Parents Joanne and Sean with their children Jack and Oliver.
celebration: Parents Joanne and Sean with their children Jack and Oliver.

COURAGEOUS little Oliver Gleeson has celebrated his second birthday, with his proud mum admitting: “We didn’t believe he would get there.”

The battling Sunderland youngster was born with half a heart, and has spent most of his young life in hospital.

His family – including mum Joanne and dad Sean, 45, – were told to “make memories” of the little lad as doctors feared how long he would survive.

Even now he is waiting for yet another operation because his aorta is narrowing, but his mum Joanne, 43, said: “He is a remarkable little boy and he is always smiling and happy.”

His fighting spirit has led to him being nominated for a Child of Courage award in the Best of Wearside competition.

Joanne said: “Everyone knows what we have been through and it is nice that someone recognises that.”

In just 12 months, the Plains Farm fighter has had nine life-saving operations but Joanne said: “We deal with things day by day.”

Oliver was born eight weeks prematurely on October 6, 2012, weighing just 4lbs. Last October, Oliver’s respiratory system failed and the

family were told to prepare themselves for the worst. However, an emergency tracheostomy saved him.

Joanne, of Polmuir road, added: “The plan before was to make memories and bring him home. We did not believe that he would get to his second birthday but he is here and he is getting bigger and stronger.”

She knows that her son is still a delicate little boy and said: “I value every day that I have got with him.~

Joanne, who has another son, Jack, six, added: “I don’t think about the future. I think one day at a time.”

The awards, which are being held in association with Gentoo, will culminate in a grand finale at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, November 19.