Mum feared her son would die

Charlie Sibley in hospital in London
Charlie Sibley in hospital in London

The mum of an 18-month-old boy who underwent ten operations and nearly died has spoken about the family’s ordeal.

Maria Sibley and her partner Lee have been on an emotional roller coaster over the past few months after their son Charlie suffered a bowel problem which could have proved fatal.

Little Charlie first became ill at the beginning of June.

Maria, a mum of six, said, “At first I thought he had an upset stomach but then he started putting up his legs in pain and I knew there was something wrong.

“The surgery was closed because it was the middle of the night so I had to call SEADOC. They couldn’t come out until 3am so I stayed up and waited for him to arrive.

“Charlie had been screaming out in pain but he had worn himself out and was asleep when the doctor arrived.”

The doctor said he thought the little one, Maria’s youngest child, had an upset stomach.

“I told the doctor there was more too it but he wouldn’t listen,” said Maria.

Later the next day Charlie had become very poorly and had blood in his nappy.

Another doctor visited and he was rushed in to Eastbourne DGH before being transferred to Brighton. Efforts at Brighton to correct his condition, known as intussusception, were unsuccessful and the youngster was then transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where he underwent further procedures and spent a lot of time on life support machines.

Maria said, “There were times when I really thought we were going to lose him and I was in a right state.

“I remember one occasion when the machines went off and about 20 to 30 doctors just rushed round to his bedside. I moved away to let them in but I could still see what was going on.”

Medics at St Thomas’ Hospital told Maria the procedure to correct the condition at Brighton may have worked if the problem had been diagnosed earlier. Maria is therefore concerned the first doctor who came to house should have recognised the problem was more than just an upset stomach.

She said, “It may be that Charlie wouldn’t have had to go through all of those operations if he had gone straight in to hospital before it became so bad.

“I do think the doctors should listen to the parents more because you know your own child and you know how they behave when they are ill. I knew there was something else going on that night back in June and I knew that he was in pain.”

Charlie’s ordeal has put a real strain on the rest of the family.

Maria said, “The other five children really missed me. I wasn’t able to see them for about three months because I was up in London.

“It was so upsetting because they would phone me and they would be crying and telling me they needed to see me.”

Maria’s partner Lee works and she said this made it difficult to get financial help.

Maria said, “We were struggling to pay the rent and I was getting eviction notices which was the last thing I needed when by son was so ill.

“I didn’t eat for three days because money was so tight and Lee tried to apply for a crisis loan for £35 and it was turned down.”

However, family and friends helped in every way they could by looking after the other five children.

Now little Charlie has had his final operation and is on the road to recovery.

Maria said, “I can’t believe how far he has come. To see him now playing with his toys after everything he has been through. It is just amazing.”