Like all mothers, Sheffield mum Lisa Hicks is enormously proud of her little boy.
At just seven-years-old Haydn Hicks is already becoming a familiar face in the region, booking modelling jobs with clients including Mamas and Papas, Asda, Bupa, and Studio. In the last two years, the Dronfield Infant School pupil has appeared in print ads, catalogues and TV adverts - and loves every minute of his part time job.
“He’s such a happy boy, and he just turns it on when he gets on set,” says Lisa.
"Of course I would say he's gorgeous – I’m his mum! But I’ve had people stop me in shops to say the same thing, and people always comment on how well behaved he is. He loves the modelling, and really enjoys meeting new people.”
And to mum Lisa, and dad Lee, Haydn is all the more precious for how close the Sheffield couple came to losing their little boy, after he contracted bacterial pneumonia which left him fighting for his life.
“It was just after his first birthday,” Lisa recalls.
“He'd started with a cold which was gradually getting worse. We woke up that Saturday morning and he was crying, unsettled, and short of breath. I just looked in his eyes and knew something was wrong.”
Lisa and her mum took Haydn to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where doctors said that, besides the obvious cold, they couldn't see anything wrong.
“Call it mother’s intuition, but I knew it was more than that. I told them I wasn't leaving until they figured out what was wrong. I'm sure I sounded dramatic, but I was desperate.”
And Lisa’ intuition served her well. Doctors gave Haydn an x-ray and immediately saw the problem.
“My mum, who has no medical training but was standing nearby when his x-ray was being done, said his entire lung was just black. Immediately the doctors came to see us and told us he had pneumonia. At that point they admitted him, put him on antibiotics and we thought he’d start to pick up. But over the course of that evening, he stopped drinking fluids or passing urine. I was holding him in my arms when I heard a pop sound, and when I looked down , blood had begun to pour from his nose.
"I ran out into the corridor and screamed for help.”
Haydn had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and gone into liver failure. He was immediately transferred via Embrace ambulance service to the ICU Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. The following day, doctors operated on the one-year-old.
“The consultant told us if they didn't operate that day, he would die. And even with the op, he only had a 50/50 chance of survival. I took him to theatre and sang Twinkle Twinkle to him as the anaesthetist put him under.”
Surgeons put a PD dialysis machine in to act as Haydn’s kidneys and he was put on dialysis for 24 hours a day. He had four blood transfusions and three platelet transfusions. After a week he was able to leave the ICU and went onto the ward, where doctors slowly reduced his dialysis hours over a three week period. Once his kidneys were able to support his body, he was again operated on to remove the machine. Four weeks after he’d been rushed through to Nottingham, he was discharged from QMC and put under the care of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“It took him two years to recover, it's been a long road,” Lisa says.
“The bacterial pneumonia split his blood cells, which caused so much damage, including him losing part of his right lung. We still have no idea where he contracted the infection. Once he was recovering, we had to give him all his childhood immunisations again, as he’d had so many transfusions.”
Today, Haydn is still under the care of Sheffield Children’s Hospital as he has very small kidneys for his age and considerable structure damage to the organs, though the full extent of the damage caused won't truly be known until he hits puberty.
“Haydn understands what happened to him, and in fact, seems to even remember parts of the experience,” Lisa explains.
“We understand, because of the complications, how important it is that he be as healthy as possible, and so we’ve always instilled in him the importance of exercising, drinking plenty of water, and eating well.
“He really is a healthy, happy and active little boy, with lots of friends and lots of extracurricular activities. He's always busy, especially since he began working with Mentor Model agency, and we love to see him enjoying everything he’s doing with his modelling work.
“We’re incredibly proud of his how he just gets on with things. He's a special little boy - and a fighter.”