Christmas surprise for baby Oscar

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A little Portstewart boy who underwent a bone marrow transplant has celebrated his first Christmas at home.

One-year-old Oscar McLaughlin was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) - a condition which affects the immune system - in December last year.

The rare disorder, also known as the ‘bubble boy’ disease, made Oscar extremely vulnerable to infection and he’s since been kept in a bubble-like sterile environment to avoid catching life-threatening diseases or infections.

On December 28, at just seven months old, Oscar was airlifted from Belfast to the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne - which specialises in treating the disorder - and he underwent a bone marrow transplant on February 13.

Oscar’s mum, Olivia said: “We arrived home on Tuesday, May 15 to my parents home in Ballymoney around 4pm.

“We were greeted by a Santa and Snowman and Christmas lights on the eaves of my parents’ house.

“My family had organised Oscar’s first Christmas to take place in May as he was in ICU in December. Pearse’s family had come to join in the celebrations also.

“We had a real christmas tree with all the decorations and also Christmas dinner with turkey, Christmas pudding and all the trimmings.

“It was a very special way to spend our return home. Santa had even left presents for Oscar! We arrived home to our own home at 9pm and were greeted with a banner placed on the railings of the park opposite our house. It was so great to be home.”

Olivia and husband Pearse say their son is making great progress since he came home.

Olivia said: “His care has been shared between Children’s Ward in Causeway Hospital and the Immunology Service at Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

We will return to Newcastle [this Friday] for his transplant progress to be reviewed. We have settled well into a routine now and Pearse has returned to work.

“It was great to have a few weeks off before he had to return as there were so many appointments and delivery of medical items that we really needed the both of us available to manage it all.

“Oscar remains restricted in that he can not be around children and also he has to be restricted in public places. He’s not even able to wait in a waiting room in the hospital as he is still very vunerable to infection.

“He attends Causeway Hospital Children’s Ward to have his bloods done weekly. At this appointment, they can monitor his immune system and also keep an eye on how is major organs are functioning.

“He is on anti rejection medication and the levels of this in his blood are also monitored. He also attends the Royal Victoria Hospital weekly and at this appointment he is given a drug which takes an hour to give.

“This drug gives him a “fake” immune system to offer him protection. This process however will be transferred up to the Causeway Children’s Ward.

“Since we have been home we have had one admission to the RBHSC for observation after Oscar developed a few spots on his cheek. The consultants are very vigilant in case he develops any infection and thankfully this time it proved harmless.”

Olivia added: “Again we would like to thank everyone who supported our family and continue to support us since we have been home. Anyone who would like to support the Bubble Foundation can do so at Oscar McLaughlin’s Just Giving page.”