WITH his cheeky smile and bright eyes Mackenzie Holgate looks like any healthy baby – but at nine days old he was so sick his parents feared they would have to register his birth and death on the same day.
The 11-month-old was given virtually zero chance of surviving when he was struck down with a rare and deadly infection, just days after he was born ten weeks premature.
Antibiotics failed to work and parts of his intestine were dying, leaving surgeons no option but to perform a risky operation that few babies survive. They had to remove 80cm of his bowel and his outlook was so grave that his devastated parents, Louise and Darren, from Dalkeith, were offered a priest to read him his last rites.
To add to the family’s nightmare, Mrs Holgate was also battling for life in hospital, after losing more than five litres of blood following an emergency Caesarean section to deliver her son.
But he has amazed medics and his parents by making a “miracle” recovery and this month he will celebrate his first birthday.
Now to thank the neonatal staff who saved him, the family has collected more than £6000 for the Simpsons Special Care Babies to help other sick and premature babies.
Mrs Holgate, 36, a clinical support worker at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said: “It’s crazy to think how far that wee man has come, from lying there at death’s door to where he is now.
“He’s a miracle, he’s the light of this house, and if it wasn’t for the angels in the neonatal unit, the infection would have taken him. We can’t thank them enough for what they did.”
The mum-of-seven had to be rushed to theatre and given a general anaesthetic to deliver her son after she suffered a placental abruption, which endangered the life of both her and her unborn baby.
When he was six days old doctors dealt the devastating news that the newborn had developed necrotising enterocolitis.
He was rushed from the Simpsons Maternity Unit to the Sick Kids for emergency surgery. But Mr Holgate, 45, who accompanied his son as his wife was still in hospital, was warned that the operation had a “very high fatality rate”.
He said: “I sat there for six hours in the waiting room, the majority of time on my own, and I didn’t know if I was going to get my son back. As time passes it gets harder and harder. Terrible things were going through my mind: ‘Am I going to have to register him twice in the same day?’”
Mackenzie spent 62 days fighting for life in hospital before he was finally allowed home to his brothers and sisters, aged between 15 and five. On his birthday, Mackenzie has his final check-up, when he will visit the neonatal staff to celebrate his miracle milestone.
Mrs Holgate said: “He’s amazing. A year ago I nearly died and they saved Mackenzie. It’s going to be a very special birthday.”
To support the family’s fundraising drive, visit his Facebook page, Mackenzie’s journey.