Baby Baxter battles on…

A BANGOR baby who continues to battle against the odds, will be supported at a charity football match next week.

When Baxter Mann arrived into the world five weeks early on March 19 last year, his parents Ashton and Daniel were told to say their goodbyes to the new addition twice in less than a week. He was born with congenial diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), resulting in some of his organs entering the chest cavity, preventing lung growth.

Only days after his birth, Baxter was transferred to a hospital in Glasgow to undergo life-saving surgery, beating the odds once again following warnings from doctors that he would not make the journey. Fast forward 10 months and the youngster is back home in Northern Ireland, where he continues to battle bravely at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Hoping to raise funds to help support Baxter and his family, while also raising awareness and funds of the rare condition, family friends Shannon Brown and Jonathan Busby, have organised a charity football match to take place next Sunday. The match, which is open to all and asks only for a donation on entry, will take place at Clandeboye Park at 5pm between Abbey Villa Over 35’s and Bangor Rangers Over 35’s.

Mum Ashton said she was overwhelmed at the support she and her family had received over the last ten months. Giving an update on her precious son, she explained how little Baxter isn’t out of the woods yet, having undergone a serious operation in December. “Baxter re-herniated at the start of December, so his patch from his diaphragm had reopened and his bowel had ended up back in his chest,” she said. “We had been saying for months that something wasn’t right with him and they said when they went in to do the diaphragm repair that it actually took them three hours to get to the diaphragm because his stomach and liver and the places they had worked before were covered in adhesions and all stuck together.” The discovery meant that what should have been a surgery lasting only a few hours, turned into a five hour operation. After the surgery, Baxter took ill and once again doctors were unable to tell Ashton and Daniel if he would make it. “It felt like we were back to the start and it was just so scary again,” Ashton said. But once again Baxter battled his way through and is doing very well.

He is now allowed out in a special wheelchair with his mum and dad, trying pureed food on his dummy and able to take a few breaks from oxygen per day. Ashton said Baxter had been doing very well over the last couple of weeks, adding that he is a very smiley baby. She hopes that her baby will soon be moved from the ICU to a ward, allowing her to do more with Baxter. Talking about next week’s fundraiser, Ashton said the support had been ‘heart-warming’. “It’s not just about Baxter. It’s about spreading the awareness. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would still be in an intensive care unit ten months later,” she added. “I’m over the moon about this fundraiser. It will be a good night.” Talking about the event, Shannon said everyone was welcome to attend the charity football match, asking that donations were made on entry. She added that all the players were also donating funds towards the fundraiser.

After the match finishes there will be raffles in Bangor Football Club with the money raised split between Baxter and CDH charity. Also organising the event, Jonathan, who is also the manager of Abbey Villa, gave his thanks to Bangor Football Club and social club for hosting the event. He added that they were looking forward to helping Baxter and his family out.