Two-year-old Parker McGreevy will be celebrating his third Christmas this year after defying the odds to survive multiple strokes which he suffered after he was born.
Parker spent nine days in a neonatal unit while medical staff prepared his mother and father for the worst case outcomes.
However as December 25 approaches, Park’s mum Louise McCrory and dad Simon McGreevy, who live in north Belfast, are so grateful their little boy is looking forward to Christmas morning like any other two-year-old.
Louise said: “He’s looking forward to Christmas, as much as he understands it. He knows Santa is going to visit and bring him toys.
“We could not be happier or prouder of how far he has come. From being told that the professionals were pessimistic about Parker’s future at seven months to watching our beautiful, happy boy now – it is amazing.”
She recalled Parker’s traumatic start to life: “Whenever you’re pregnant you just think you’re going to have a baby, you’re going to go home from hospital and everything’s rosey, but in my case it didn’t work like that. I had to have an emergency caesarean due to complications with my pregnancy and unfortunately Parker had multiple strokes when he was born.
“It was really terrifying. I didn’t realise that a baby could have a stroke so it was shocking for all of us.”
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Childhood stroke affects around 400 children year in the UK.
Louise said: “Parker spent nine days in the neonatal unit and the medical staff told us that he would need lots of rehabilitation and support. We didn’t know what the future held for Parker – whether he would be able to walk or talk. He was discharged from hospital and over the last two years he has attended rounds of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and lots of appointments as doctors measured his growth and monitored his development. It’s been tough but Parker is made of strong stuff.”
Parker was recognised for his courage and bravery at the recent Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Awards Northern Ireland celebration.
To celebrate Parker’s courage the Stroke Association arranged a visit to Springfield Road Fire Station so Parker – a fan of Fireman Sam – could meet NI Fire & Rescue staff.
To find out more about the Stroke Association or to donate to its Christmas appeal visit stroke.org.uk/iammore