Four-year-old Oscar Mclaughlin, from Portstewart, County Derry, is enjoying his first year at school after being treated in the Bubble Unit when he became ill at 7 months old. After contracting pneumonia Oscar was diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). Without urgent treatment in the Bubble Unit, in Newcastle upon Tyne, Oscar wouldn’t have survived.
Mum Olivia said: “Oscar was seven months old and it was my first day back at work when he became poorly. When he was diagnosed with SCID, I was in complete shock. One moment we had a perfectly healthy baby, the next he was suffering from a life-threatening condition. It was horrifying, we had no idea what was ahead of us.” After spending a week in intensive care in Belfast, including his first Christmas, Oscar was transferred by air ambulance to the Bubble Unit.
Oscar was kept in isolation in the Bubble – a sterilised room designed to protect from any bugs or bacteria – for more than five months. Here he underwent a bone marrow transplant, a painful and intensive procedure but vital if he was to survive. Mum Olivia and dad Pierce were by his side constantly.
Olivia continued: “There was no alternative for Oscar, it was transplant or death. There is no way he would have survived without it. It was a horrendous time, but now, nearly four years later on he is well on the road to recovery and living a normal life.
“Oscar has just started school and he is enjoying it. He gets tired at times, but he never complains – he likes to say he has ‘superman blood’. None of this would have been possible without the Bubble Unit. The staff are amazing, I’m so grateful for everything they did for us and Oscar – they’re literally saving lives every day.”