Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boy defies medics to walk again after being given up for dead

Liam McCallum with his parents Natasha and Alistair
Liam McCallum with his parents Natasha and Alistair
The youngster on his bike
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A Co Antrim mother whose young son almost died after being knocked down while playing football has spoken of her pride at his determination to walk again.

Liam McCallum was a week away from celebrating his 10th birthday when he suffered a catastrophic head injury after being struck by a car outside his home in Liscolman near Bushmills on January 10, 2017

He was left fighting for his life in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

His devastated parents Alistair (47) and Natasha (45) watched as their son was placed in an induced coma and were told there was little hope.

Natasha recalled: "Liam was having a kickabout with his football like many children do but he ran into the road to chase the ball and was hit by a car.

"Doctors advised us to turn off Liam's life support machine. They said it was best for everyone, but we knew he was a fighter and asked them to keep it on."

The couple stayed by his side night and day and by some miracle he did open his eyes again, beat various infections and finally breathed on his own.

Despite the initial fears that Liam (12) would not survive given his horrific injuries, he has continually defied medical opinion with his progress.

Last October he and Natasha flew to London to take up a place at Tadworth Hospital outside London, one of the UK's leading centres for treating brain injuries.

The visit was facilitated by the Children's Trust charity and Liam spent six months in Surrey, benefiting from the very best medical attention.

Natasha added: "After six months of intensive brain injury rehabilitation and through his own determination, Liam has made tremendous progress. With the help of a special walking frame Liam has been able to get to his feet and start to walk.

"Half of his brain is so damaged it will not repair, so he has to relearn everything from babyhood with the other side of his brain.

"He also has to contend with seizures and muscle spasms, making his muscles extend and go rigid."

Liam's dream was to play for his beloved Liverpool FC and his parents now hope to get him walking independently again one day, no matter how long that takes.

"We know that there isn't going to be an overnight miracle and that progress will be slow but we hope he will get there," said Natasha.

Liam now attends Sandelford Special School in Coleraine, where staff have also been impressed by his progress since his return from Tadworth at the end of March.

Natasha, who also has three daughters - Aimee (23), Rachael (19) and 15-year-old Lucy - says her son is "an amazing little man".

"He is an inspiration when you see how he has fought through all of this and gets stronger week by week. He has the biggest smile on his face all the time too and never gives up, which makes us so proud of him," she said.

The Children's Trust, which provided Liam with specialist rehabilitation, is launching Tiny Massive Moments on May 20 to fund specialist equipment, activities and outings to help motivate children undergoing intensive rehabilitation, giving them the opportunity to live the best life possible.

Natasha added: "The nursing staff and carers at Tadworth were absolutely fantastic and like a second family to us during our time there. On Liam's last day in March when he rang the big brass 'going home' bell, there were a lot of tears because they all loved working with him.

"We can never thank them enough for helping Liam but would like to be able to give something back for all their hard work".

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