The parents of a toddler are looking forward to a brighter future just months after receiving the traumatic news that their beloved only child was born with no immune system.
Olivia and Pearse McLaughlin are now enjoying a new rhythm to their family life after spending months in a specialist hospital unit in England awaiting a bone marrow donor for Oscar who was one last month.
Four months on from his life-saving transplant at the Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle, Oscar is a smiling, happy little boy, glad to be back at home in Portstewart as the family attempt to resume normal life — with the joyous news of another baby on the way in a few months time.
Oscar has already had to endure a major transplant, periods of sickness and chemotherapy.
However, his mum revealed that apart from very brief episodes, Oscar has remained a jolly little boy in spite of everything life has thrown at him.
“He's a wee dote and he has kept smiling the whole time and we're just so happy to be at home now,” Olivia told the Belfast Telegraph.
It wasn't long ago however, that their worst fears loomed when Oscar first became ill. Olivia was on her first day back at work last December as a paediatric occupational therapist, but when her mother-in-law telephoned to say little Oscar was very unwell she wasn't overly concerned.
Then she and her surveyor husband Pearse were left reeling in shock to learn that their child was suffering from double pneumonia and he was soon admitted to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children ICU where consultants diagnosed SCID — Severe Combined Immune Deficiency.
In essence it meant that Oscar had no immune system to fight off infection.
Admitted to the Newcastle unit late last December, Oscar was finally matched with a donor, undergoing his transplant in February.
It wasn't until April that he was able to begin to leave his hospital bed.
Finally back at home since mid-May, Oscar continues to amaze his parents with his joyful spirit though he is still fed by a nasal gastric and faces various regular checks.
“He can't mix with other children just yet and is only allowed to be around well adults. Hopefully he's over the worst of it.
“We're hoping in a year's time that we'll get the news that it's been a success. Then that's a cure,” she said.
Olivia paid tribute to all the medical staff who have helped Oscar.
Those who wish to donate to the charity, which assists families in situations similar to the McLaughlins, can do so through www.justgiving.com/Oscar-Mclaughlin.
Problems with the immune system can be relatively minor, leading to frequent colds and other viral or bacterial infections, or they can be major diseases.
How the immune system works is not completely understood. Inflammation is a major function of the immune system, yet sometimes it works against us.
Diseases and problems with the immune system are those in which the body's ability to fight disease is impaired and those in which the immune system overreacts to stimuli, causing damage.