THE traumatic birth of their second child has inspired a Helensburgh couple to share their story in a bid to raise money for life-saving equipment – and help other families going through the same experience.

Gemma and Francis McCauley’s son Charlie Peter, who will turn two in December, was born with asphyxia, a condition which deprives the body of oxygen and can cause unconsciousness, suffocation or death.

Charlie had to be resuscitated three times as he was completely limp and wasn’t breathing, and he was quickly transferred from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital for specialist treatment.

There, doctors used a procedure called therapeutic hypothermia, whereby Charlie’s core body temperature was lowered by a ‘cooling mat’ to try and prevent brain damage.

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Thankfully, the process was successful and Charlie is now a happy and healthy toddler, with his parents keen to raise awareness and money for the all-important equipment.

“We didn’t know if Charlie was going to survive”, said Gemma.

“He was born in Paisley, but they don’t have a cooling mat, so they had to transfer him and get one from elsewhere.

“He was on this cooling mat for 72 hours and his temperature dropped to around 33 degrees, which rests his brain and organs.

“After that, they warm the body up again, then the brain kickstarts and that is supposed to prevent brain damage.

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“He woke up and he was absolutely fine. A scan showed slight brain damage on the right side of his brain, which is his coordination and movement, but he doesn’t have any difficulties and we think his brain has made new pathways.

“If he hadn’t been cooled on the cooling mat his brain wouldn’t have been able to do that, as it has to be used within five hours.

“This cooling therapy saved Charlie’s life.”

The couple set an initial £2,000 target to cover the cost of buying another mat, to be shared among children’s hospitals in Glasgow, and they have already raised more than £1,800, with donations coming from as far afield as Australia.

They are holding a charity race night at Helensburgh Rugby Club on Saturday, September 14, while Gemma, her sister Caitlin and two brothers Cameron and Kieran, are running the Glasgow half marathon later this month in aid of the fund-raising effort.

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Gemma added: “The support is overwhelming; I feel emotional thinking about it and it’s incredible that so many people have supported us. Charlie is lucky to have so many people around him.

“To think we have raised almost £2,000 and we’ve not even had the charity night yet is amazing.

“We’re aiming to get two mats now since we’ve raised so much money already.

“We know how difficult it has been for us and we were lucky in our case.

“Charlie was signed off in February and is walking and talking now, he’s climbing, he’s just a typical, normal toddler and actually crazier than his sister Saoirse, who is three.

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“His numeracy skills could be affected, but we won’t know until he starts school.

“We didn’t know about the cooling mat and had never heard of it. We were told that it doesn’t always completely work, it can save lives but sometimes it doesn’t prevent brain damage.

“Nobody talks about it because it is the most traumatic time of your life; I hadn’t spoken about it until Charlie was signed off.

“Hopefully this will raise awareness about it and help other families going through the same thing.”

Gemma thanked Neptune Taxis for sponsoring the race night and Helensburgh Rugby Club for offering the venue, along with Loch Lomond Sea Planes, Beauty Within, Laura Kate and Glasgow Whisky Company, among others, who have donated raffle prizes.

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