Hartlepool’s little hero back home after fighting off killer illness

Zoe and Luke pictured with son Callum
Zoe and Luke pictured with son Callum

HARTLEPOOL’S little hero is back home after beating the odds to overcome a killer illness.

Two-year-old Callum Smith won the hearts of Mail readers when we told how the little Hartlepool lad had spent a quarter of his life in hospital.

He has already coped with epilepsy, reflux problems, difficulties with swallowing, visual impairment, and an inability to hold his airways open. He has become a familiar face to the staff at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

But he’s now had to overcome a new health scare which could have claimed his life, and even had doctors initially thinking he had a form of meningitis.

His proud mum Zoe Neesam, 21, said: “My little soldier has fought back again.”

She added: “Doctors diagnosed him with encephalopathy syndrome . It is a rare disease that usually happens to previously healthy children aged between three months and eight months old.”

Encephalopathy is a disorder or disease of the brain. It can refer to a wide variety of brain disorders, some of which are fatal.

But when Callum was first rushed into hospital, doctors feared he had meningitis because of a rash that developed all over his body. Zoe added: “He also had a very nasty bug called pseudomonas but there was something bigger in the background.”

Doctors then treated him for meningitis but Zoe added: “When they were doing a routine blood test to check for meningitis, they saw that Callum’s platelets had dropped from 124 to 7 within 24 hours.

“He needed an urgent transfusion in the early hours of last Saturday morning.”

There were further issues too. Callum’s eyes would not move and then rolling to the back of his head a lot, said Zoe.

Doctors then had further news for Callum’s parents, Zoe and Luke Smith, 23, who are both registered as his full-time carers.

Zoe said: “Along with all of his other symptoms, he has been diagnosed with a rare disease where, if he gets a temperature of nearly 40, his body shuts down and that is what has caused all of this.”

But against all the odds, Callum battled back. She said her little boy’s platelet count had climbed back to 82 earlier this week and were still rising.

Callum has spent more than a quarter of his life in hospital but he has never stopped fighting.

His story was so inspirational that the people of Hartlepool raised £12,000 for him to make sure he could have a sensory room in his home at Laird Road in Hartlepool.

The money was raised through the Callum’s Dream appeal which was run by the Hartlepool Mail in association with town charity Epilepsy Outlook.

We asked for our readers to raise the £5,000 target and they did it within four weeks. We reached £12,00 within three months which meant Callum could also receive help towards his ongoing care needs.