The parents of a three-week-old baby who urgently needs a new heart have said they feel “helpless” as they desperately wait for a donor.
Carter, who was born prematurely on Boxing Day, is being kept alive at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital by an Ecmo (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which is pumping blood around his body.
“We are helpless right now, it’s in the hands of a donor coming forward and donating a heart for my son,” the baby’s father said.
Sarah and Chris Cookson lost their firstborn son, Charlie, when he was just two years old from an undiagnosed condition.
Their newborn baby, who they describe as their “miracle baby”, survived three cardiac arrests within hours of being born but doctors became concerned after realising Carter’s heart was damaged on one side.
He was operated on, to attach a pacemaker, but the surgery was unsuccessful.
His parents have been told the Ecmo machine cannot be used indefinitely as there are complications with the equipment, which means Carter needs a heart transplant within days.
Mr Cookson, 40, told Sky News: “We have got hours… maybe one day, two days… We don’t have long left and our fear of not taking our son home is becoming a reality now.
“Knowing that when you see him that’s your boy who is sitting there.
“There’s nothing you can do as parents: we can’t fix him, we can’t go out and buy a heart, we can’t do medical procedure. We can’t.”
Mrs Cookson, 43, added: “We’ve done everything we can, along with the massive support network that we have got, we haven’t failed him. I think that’s what we’ve got to keep.
“We are praying to God something comes within a very short space of time.”
The couple set up the Charlie Cookson Foundation in 2013, after their firstborn died, to help provide financial aid to the families of seriously ill children.
Joanne Nicholson, a family friend who helps run the charity, described the appeal for a donor as just needing “the right person to hear it”.
“It is heartbreaking to think that a family have to go through something devastating for us to get what we want”, she said
“It’s a double-edged sword. It’s awful to think but we are just praying that a family might get something out of giving Carter a gift of life.”
Carter’s parents describe their appeal for a donor heart as “a final call”.
Mr Cookson said: “I’m 40 years old and Sarah is 43 – it was the last time we were going to have a chance to try for kids but we tried again.
“We thought nobody can be unlucky twice and then here we are – we have got a son who is 19 days old and we could be 24 to 48 hours away from losing him again.
“We may have to bury our second child.
“No parent should have to go through the first time, never mind the second time, but if we don’t get a heart donation we are going to have to do that.”