Will and Erin Caffrey’s 22-month-old son Charlie suffers from a potentially fatal lung condition. He was still in his mother’s womb when they learned of the cysts that were in his lungs.
The couple, from the UK, were heartbroken, yet with the help of healthcare workers, Charlie is now looking forward to his second birthday.
“We didn’t know anything about CCAM at the time, it was scary not knowing what the outcome would be,” Erin told The Epoch Times, referencing the condition known as congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (or CCAM).
The disease causes abnormal, nonfunctioning masses of tissue, or cysts, in the lungs, which can lead to cancer and be fatal.
Married for about three years, the Newcastle-based couple met in school and fell in love.
They learned of Charlie’s condition during Erin’s pregnancy but had their doctor’s assurance that all was safe. However, things worsened once Charlie entered the world.
“When Charlie was born his lung collapsed—I held him for around 30 seconds before he was rushed into SCBU (special care baby unit/NICU),” said Erin.
“There they did an X-ray and saw there was air around his lung so they inserted a chest drain into him to drain the air.”
Charlie underwent several CT scans, blood tests, and a bronchoscopy to gauge his health and find the right treatment for him. He was then prepped for surgery in December.
Now almost 2 years old, Charlie is doing much better. He enjoys life like most kids his age, despite having CCAM.
“Even when the majority of his left lung was taken up by cysts he’s always been such a well baby considering the circumstances—that’s why the need for surgery and the results of his CT scan last December were such a shock to us and his consultant,” explained the mother.
As Charlie continues growing, he’s also becoming more aware of his surroundings; he doesn’t like to lie down for X-rays or checkups, which makes treatment more difficult.
Nor is treatment entirely over yet for the little man.
“We can’t explain how happy and relieved we were to find out that his cysts weren’t cancerous—and were in fact just aggressive CCAM and bruised lymph nodes,” said Erin.
“However there is a slim chance that we could go through this all over again and be told for the 3rd time they think Charlie may have cancerous cysts due to the fact that there are still some cysts left in his upper left lung (only the lower lobe was removed).”
Glad to see their son recovering all the same, the couple are hopeful that he will continue showing improvement.
Meanwhile, Erin also took the opportunity to thank the National Health Service (NHS) workers for their service in helping her son.
“We also just want to say how grateful we are for our amazing NHS,” she said. “Every single person who has cared for Charlie during his numerous hospital admissions and visits has been fantastic.
“We [couldn’t] have asked for a better, more dedicated consultant, and the PICU team that looked after Charlie after his surgery were honestly so amazing, they never stopped.”
To repay the medical professionals who helped treat their child, the couple started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the NHS, and have already raised 2,155 pounds (approx. US$3,038)—a little more than their 2,000-pound (approx. US$2,820) goal.