‘They said he would never walk or talk – my son’s a miracle’

PLEA Francis Callard with mum Emma, 24. Picture: Paul Jacobs (122093-6)
PLEA Francis Callard with mum Emma, 24. Picture: Paul Jacobs (122093-6)

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ALL little Francis Clark wants for his second birthday is to be able to walk.

At his age he should be running freely into his mum’s arms and chasing his older brother Jack.

A traumatic birth and long recovery has left him with hips not strong enough to allow him to walk.

Now his mum Emma Callard, of Sandringham Road in Fratton, is calling on the community to help raise money for a vital Lycra suit which could help him take his first steps before he turns two next month.

The suit costs £500 and will help ease his hip muscles into their correct position.

But it is only available on the NHS if the suit helps Francis’ development after the first three months of wearing it.

Emma said: ‘He cannot crawl yet but can shuffle.

‘I hope to get him walking by his second birthday on July 18.

‘They said he would never walk or talk but I want to give other parents hope as we thought he would never happen. He’s a miracle.

‘We cannot afford the cost of the suit but you try and find a way if it’s going to help him walk.’

Emma and his dad Shaun Clark call Francis their ‘miracle baby’ after she gave birth prematurely when she was just 26 weeks pregnant.

She was due to have twins but complications meant Francis’ brother Ryalie received most of the nutrients during pregnancy.

Ryalie died and Francis was delivered in an emergency caesarean section.

When he was born, we weighed just 700g – including the breathing equipment – and was the size of an iPhone.

He spent the first two and a half months on his front in intensive care, rigged up to breathing apparatus.

It was during this time his hip muscles underdeveloped and were pushed backwards, leaving his legs in a similar position to that of a frog.

He finally went home after four months in hospital and only had his breathing equipment removed earlier this week.

It means his mum can see his smile for the first time.

She added: ‘I’m so proud of him.

‘I didn’t think I’d see him get to this age. I took every day as it came and never imagined he’d be off his oxygen.

‘It took nearly two years to see his face – it was a wonderful experience.

‘He’s the most happy baby I’ve ever met. ‘

A spokesman for Portsmouth NHS Trust said: ‘The overall clinical effectiveness of these suits has not been proven, so families are asked to fund it from the outset. 

‘If it is shown to be effective in meeting the child’s needs, then the PCT will fund subsequent suits. 

‘However, this is an issue that we’re planning to look at as part of a wider review of children’s equipment which is at an early stage.’

To help sponsor the suit, call Emma on 07715 309711.