Stowmarket: ‘Miracle’ Zac survives against the odds

BABY Zac was just 36 hours old when he stopped breathing.

He was rushed to hospital but doctors warned his parents to expect the worst – he might not live through the night.

Yet three months later, the little fighter is defying all the odds.

Proud parents Lauren Critchfield and James Cox, of Guillemot Close, in Stowmarket, are now trying to improve awareness of Zac’s rare genetic condition in the hope that it will help others in the same situation.

“Zac had been whingeing all night,” said Lauren, 23. “I went in at 7am to change his nappy but when I picked him back up, he just stopped breathing.

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“James called an ambulance and did CPR while I ran downstairs to the neighbours.

“The paramedics were there within 10 minutes and they got him back, but by the time we got round the corner, he had stopped again.

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“When we got to the hospital, he had no heartbeat either so, basically, he had died within 48 hours of being born.”

Doctors tested for infections and meningitis to find out why Zac had stopped breathing, but it was not until a few days later that specialists realised it could be a rare metabolic disorder, multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MADD), which stops the body from breaking down fats and is usually fatal for young babies.

But because Zac’s brain had been starved of oxygen for so long, staff at Ipswich Hospital carried out an ultrasound to test for brain damage.

“They said his brain was so badly damaged at the back and sides, the part that controls your breathing and swallowing, they told us to prepare ourselves for the worst,” said Lauren.

“We didn’t want to register his birth and his death at the same time, so the registrar actually came to the hospital and we registered his birth there.

“I really wanted him christened as well but it was probably the worst christening I’ve ever been to. All the staff and our family were crying.”

But when doctors took him off the ventilator, Zac – still just a week old – defied the odds and managed to breathe on his own.

“I just ran in and stood there for ages just watching him breathe,” added Lauren. “When he made it through the weekend, quite a few of the doctors were shocked that he was still alive. I’m proud of him proving them all wrong. He’s a little miracle baby.”

The extent of Zac’s brain damage is not yet clear, although doctors know his sight has been badly affected. He has been referred to specialist children’s hospital Great Ormond Street for further tests.

His parents have now set up a Facebook page and blog devoted to Zac’s story to help others going through the same ordeal.

Lauren said: “We want to tell people about what he’s got because it’s not very commonly known.

“It often gets put down to cot death.

“Trying to find someone else to talk to who has been through the same thing is impossible, so if there’s someone else out there with it, it would be nice to talk to them.”

The couple, who also have a two-year-old son Aidan, have paid tribute to the dedicated staff at the hospital.

James, 28, said: “From the minute we picked up the phone to dial 999 to the minute we left the hospital, they were just brilliant.

“We would like to thank all the staff because they were fantastic with us and with Zac.”

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