A BRAVE five-year-old has defied the odds to start his schooldays – just three years after he was paralysed from the neck down.
Frankie Haddow was a normal, healthy two-year-old when he was struck down by a rare virus which left him “lifeless” below the neck.
It was feared the boy from Rosyth, Fife, would be left severely disabled for the rest of his life.
But a combination of his own determination and extensive therapy meant Frankie was able to walk to Camdean Primary last week using two walking sticks.
And it is hoped that Frankie will eventually make a complete full recovery.
Frankie was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis – a virus that attacks the spinal cord and central nervous system – three years ago.
The virus usually affects one side of the body and it is very fear for total paralysis to happen.
So his parents, Nicola, 36, and Stuart, 37, were in tears last Wednesday after watching their little boy start school – on time and on his own two feet.
Neo-natal nursery nurse, Nicola said: “All his grannies, granddads and aunties were there in tears watching him.
“He was so excited all morning especially because his big brother is already at school so he couldn’t wait to start.
“He fell asleep at lunchtime because he was so tired from it all and fatigue can come quickly.”
Nicola added: “We didn’t know if he would walk again but he’s such a determined character. Even when he was struggling to move his hands, he would be trying to put his dummy back in his mouth himself when I tried to help.”
Frankie took ill suddenly shortly before his second birthday on January 7, 2013.
An MRI scan showed that the youngster had swelling on the brain and lesions on his spinal cord.
Nicola said: “It’s been a long journey for us. It all happened in the space of four hours.
“Frankie had come home a bit teary but we thought he was just tired. He didn’t have a temperature but just started shaking and wouldn’t stop so we thought it was because he was just a bit upset.
“An hour and a half later the shaking still continued, he jumped up and his legs were getting worse.
“We took him to the hospital but they didn’t know what it was.
“He was such a physical wee boy so the whole time I didn’t think anything was really wrong, just a silly wee virus. We were put in an ambulance to the Sick Kids and were told he had swelling on his brain.
“The neurologist said they had never seen a case like this before, the virus usually affects one side of the body, never completely from the neck down but it was severe with Frankie.”
Fundraising has enabled the youngster to receive physiotherapy sessions at Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld where he goes four times a year.
The plucky football fan hasn’t let the virus stop him from being active and plays frame football with Partick Thistle every fortnight.
It is not the first time the family has experienced heartbreak. Frankie is named after his granddad Frank Miller who died in the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988.
Nicola said: “We sometimes used to think we were so unlucky to have such tragedy in our lives but now I see we are lucky to have Frankie and lucky he survived and is recovering.”