Paralysed and told he would never walk again, infant defies all expectations

Imagine being told by paramedics that your baby son might not survive the journey to the hospital, despite being perfectly healthy just hours before. This was the reality for local woman Jess Martin when her son Arlo woke up with his eyes rolling but unable to move his arms. 
 
Arlo with his twin brother Finley and his older brother Noah

It was a normal morning a year ago this week when Jess found one of her 22-month-old twins, paralysed and very unwell. "I phoned 999 thinking he'd had a stroke", Jess said, "I was beside myself and it sent me into a panic attack. We were blue lighted to Derriford, but in the 10 minutes it took to get there, Arlo lost movement in his legs as well. After being put to sleep and having an MRI doctors decided he was extremely poorly and needed to be blue lighted to Bristol Children's Hospital."

It was this journey that Jess says was her lowest point. "We were on blue lights, there were three doctors around him and wires coming off him and they told me they didn't think he would make it."
We were on blue lights, there were three doctors around him and wires coming off him and they told me they didn't think he would make it

Arlo in hospital

But against the odds, Arlo made it to the hospital and was later diagnosed with Transverse myelitis, an inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord. It is a neurological disorder that often damages the insulating material covering nerve cell fibers (myelin) and interrupts the messages that the spinal cord nerves send throughout the body. 

Jess, an ex-Kingsbridge Community College student, was then told her little boy would never walk again. They spent three weeks in hospital, during which time she didn't leave her son's side. 

Arlo in hospital with his toy monkey, who had matching bandages

"Three weeks into Arlo being in hospital I made the hard decision to leave him for 24 hours to come and get his twin, Finley", Jess explained. Finley had been staying with Jess's mum and after three weeks they were given a Ronald McDonald House close to the hospital. Their older brother Noah, 5, stayed with his dad. "He was amazing and coped so well" Jess said.

From that moment on, Arlo continued to defy doctor's expectations. "He not only proved them wrong, he absolutely smashed it" said Jess. 
He not only proved them wrong, he absolutely smashed it
They spent 67 days in hospital and despite weakness in his left arm, leaving him with no strength or grip on one side, and a weakened immune system, you would be hard pushed to imagine that Arlo was so terribly ill just 12 months ago. 

"He has shown complete strength" said Jess, "I knew there was hope for normality when he started walking again. He is a complete warrior and his determination to not let things hold him back blows me away."
He is a complete warrior and his determination to not let things hold him back blows me away

The boy who was told he would never walk again

Since leaving hospital, Arlo has been attending weekly physio appointments at the Children's Development Centre in Plymouth and the family are currently waiting on a date, hopefully in January, for him to have an operation to remove a nerve in his leg and to replace it in his left arm. The hope is that this will mean he will get complete strength and grip back in that arm. 

Arlo modelling his Covid-19 mask

Jess expressed her thanks to everyone who cared for Arlo at Bristol Children's Hospital. "They saved my son's life and I will never be able to thank them enough. I'm just so proud of him, hes such a strong boy and doesn't let anything get in his way."
They saved my son's life and I will never be able to thank them enough
Within five days of being in Bristol Children's Hospital, Jess was so moved by the care she and her son were given that she started a social media fundraiser for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, a charity that supports children and their families at the hospital. She raised nearly £1,700. 
Jess said at the time: "Since arriving here, the staff have gone above and beyond to support Arlo and myself through this frightening time, not only on a medical basis but on personal basis too. This includes music therapy, play therapy and accommodation. The people that are helping Arlo in his physical rehabilitation are all funded by this charity. With out these donations the work these incredible people do would not be possible."

We wish Arlo all the luck for his future operation and hope he continues to do all the roly-polys he can manage. 

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