EVER since he was born 12 weeks prematurely weighing just 1Ib 6oz, life has been a battle for little Alfie Brooker-Chick.
When his mother Tina first raised concerns about the shape of her son’s head, she was told it was due to the fact he had spent so long lying down in the neonatal unit.
Tina who lives in Hamworthy, Poole, explains: “When it’s your own child you do not notice the severity of their appearance, as to any mum, they are beautiful whatever, but I just knew something was not quite right.”
But it wasn’t until Alfie was two years old that a doctor at a neonatal outpatient appointment finally agreed to carry out various tests, and he was diagnosed with a condition called craniosynostosis.
Further tests revealed that pressures in Alfie’s skull were high, so surgery had to be sooner rather than later, otherwise he could suffer brain damage.
Tina says: “As a single mum, I didn’t know how I was going to deal with this.
“I had lots of sleepless nights just thinking about it.
“Luckily I found support in a couple of groups called Headlines and Cranio Ribbons UK Parent Support, which has been a Godsend, being able to talk to other parents who have gone through the same thing.”
In early January 2013, Alfie had a five hour operation during which part of his skull was removed and reformed with pins and wires to allow more space for his brain.
“When I finally got the call to say Alfie’s surgery was over it was such a relief,” says Tina.
“I was totally amazed at how well the surgeons had done, his head shape looked amazing and he bounced back within a couple of days.”
Now Tina is keen to raise awareness of the condition which affects approximately 1 in every 3000 children.
“Alfie had surgery at two and a half years old which is quite late as it wasn’t diagnosed early enough.
“If any parent has concerns about their baby’s head shape, I would advise them to go straight to their doctor. It might be nothing but better to be safe.”
Alfie is now an active four-year-old boy, although he still has to have check-ups and may need further cranio surgery when he is older.
Tina adds: “He has a zig-zag scar from ear to ear, which when he is older he will think is cool. He has a few other problems like global delayed development, chronic lung disease and he is still in one-year-old clothes, but he is my little fighter, my true inspiration and my world.”