‘Little miracle’ Charlie starts at local school after being struck by cancer as a baby

Five-year-old Charlie Smith is his mum and dad’s “little miracle”.

Charlie Smith in hospital

Charlie with his family – dad Liam, mum Riona, Kelseigh, 7, Rileigh, 6, and Lewis, 1

The brave youngster has survived cancer on more than one occasion as well as a rare brain infection that put him into a coma.

Now, three years on, little Charlie – who lives with his parents and brothers and sister – is well enough to have started school.

Charlie Smith starting primary school

Mum Riona, 27, told the Tele there were times she didn’t dare believe that her son would live long enough to go to school.

She said: “He spent two years in hospital as a toddler and at one point he was given only a 30% chance of survival.

“I often wondered if he would make it and ever be able to get to school.

“I used to pray for a miracle and it looks like we got one.

“Charlie started in primary one at Langlands School in Forfar after the summer holidays and he’s getting on great.

“I’ve just had a parents’ night and his teacher is really happy with his progress.

“Considering that he spent a large amount of time in isolation as a baby and toddler where he couldn’t mix with anyone, he is adapting really well to school.

“He loves school and is able to join in everything.

“There are days when I worry about him all the time but I just have to remain positive.

“He’s doing great and that’s what counts.”

Charlie himself said: “I like school and my favourite subject is doing puzzles.

“I also like playing games with my friends, especially my best friend Cody.

“I remember a bit of being in hospital. I used to get lots of toys.”

Riona said: ”He does have some recollection of hospital and all the time he and I spent there.

“Some days he complains of sore legs and he has also developed alopecia.

“Doctors are not sure why but they said it could be related to the stress of starting school, although he seems to us to have coped with it pretty well.”

The family live in the Angus town although dad Liam, 29, is from Dundee, where Charlie was treated in Ninewells Hospital before being moved to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Riona said: “Charlie had a tumour and a kidney removed in an operation in September 2014.

“However, we discovered it had spread to his abdomen.”

Charlie was prepared for chemotherapy but a week later he contracted a rare brain infection, fell into a coma and was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Fortunately, after undergoing dozens of chemotherapy treatments, the youngster recovered well.

However, despite making miraculous progress to date, Charlie is still not entirely out of the woods.

Riona said: “He still has to go for regular check-ups and we have been told it will be another couple of years before we can believe he is completely in the clear.

“Meantime, we just have to wait and remain positive and take each day as it comes.

“I’m so grateful to all the medical staff in Edinburgh and in Dundee. It’s thanks to them we still have Charlie.

“The NHS often gets a bad press but Charlie’s chances weren’t great. We still have him and he has a future to look forward to.”

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