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Baby Carter's parents renew appeal for heart donation

Carter Cookson Photo: ITV News

By Kris Jepson

The parents of baby, Carter Cookson, have renewed their appeal for a new heart to be donated so it can be used in a life saving transplant.

Carter was born on Boxing Day, but suffered three cardiac arrests hours after his birth.

Since then he has been assisted by a special machine called an "Ecmo", which enables his heart to pump blood around his body.

His parents say he has between four to five weeks to live unless a new heart can be found.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

During the past week, Carter's parents have experienced both "highs and lows".

They have been encouraged by the support people are giving them, both in the hospital, across the region and around the world.

Sarah Cookson told ITV News:

There’s messages coming through to us, which is just giving us that hope, as you know, there has been miracles happening and hearts have arrived and it keeps us going, but there’s the flip side where the reality kicks in everyday, where we get up and we think we didn’t get a phone call last night, we didn’t get a phone call yesterday and then you’ve just got your whole body crossed, hoping that you get a phone call today.

– Sarah Cookson, Carter's mum
Sarah and Carter Credit: ITV News

In the last week, doctors had to temporarily paralyse Carter's body to avoid fatal bleeding. His dad, Chris Cookson, said this was particularly difficult.

You live for the small moments and that’s all we can have right now. We see the eyes moving, we see the legs moving, if we get a little smile, that makes our day right now and, of course, we want a lot more. We’re praying for that heart, we’re praying to take him home and do what normal parents do.

– Chris Cookson, Carter's dad

For Carter to receive a new heart, it would mean another family have to lose their baby.

NHS Blood and Transplant's Lead Nurse, Angie Scales, told ITV News that although it is a difficult decision to make, donating the organs of your child can often benefit the parents during the grieving process.

Families have to have that conversation at a time that’s incredibly difficult for them, so at the time, where they are losing a child themselves. One thing we do know is that families, where they have donated and their children have gone onto donate, is actually that they find a lot of comfort from that in terms of their grieving process and it’s often the only positive thing that does come from such a sad event.

– Angie Scales, NHS Blood and Transplant
Chris and Carter Credit: ITV News

Carter's parents know only too well that they, themselves, may have to make that very difficult decision if a heart cannot be found for their son.

They said they would have no qualms about donating Carter's organs in those circumstances.

If we can do that and we can save another eight babies max, then we’ll do it. That’s going to be the last decision that we ever make, but if there’s other parents in that situation right now who makes that decision to donate a heart then our child will survive.

– Chris Cookson, Carter's dad