14/08/2014 12:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Parents Defied Doctors' Advice To Amputate Their Desperately Sick Baby's Limbs


Few of us can imagine how we'd react when faced with the kind of heart-rending decision that confronted parents Jodie Rothwell and Dale Thorpe about their seriously ill baby son Lucas two years ago.

As he lay in a hospital bed, desperately ill and fighting for his life, doctors told them they had a choice: amputate the 11-month-old's limbs or risk him being brain damaged.

What would you do? For Jodie and Dale – despite the doctors' assertions – they made a decision based on stubbornness. And it was the best decision they've ever made.

Because today, Lucas is a happy and healthy three-year-old who loves to charge around on his scooter and play with his brother and sister.

But his life could have been so different.

As a baby, Lucas was struck down by a form of bladder cancer so rare that his parents flew him out to America for specialised proton radiation to treat the cancer – called rhabdomyosarcoma, which affects fewer than 60 children in the UK each year.

But just two days after he arrived he contracted potentially deadly meningitis, septicaemia, and pneumonia.

Doctors said this horrific combination gave them no choice but to remove Lucas's left arm, left leg, right foot and right hand otherwise he could be brain damaged.

But his parents had other ideas. Recalling that agonising decision, mum Jodie Rothwell, 30, told the Mirror: "We told them No. I'm very stubborn and I have always wanted to look at other options."

She and Dale, 29, from Atherton, Greater Manchester – also parents to Molly, six, and Jordan, 11 – spent Christmas Eve in an intensive care ward as Lucas battled for life.

Jodie said: "At one point they said he probably wouldn't make it through the night. A priest came to bless him."

Doctors were concerned that the meningitis would cause Lucas's organs to shut down so they put him in a high-pressure container normally used by deep-sea divers to oxygenate his body.

They also put leeches on his hands and feet to try and suck out the infection.

Several of Lucas's fingertips and his right foot died and fell off due to the meningitis.

Jodie went on: "He was distraught. I had to do his dressings rather than a nurse to make it less of an ordeal for him. I was worried that everything else would fall off."

Amazingly, he survived and avoided the brain damage doctors thought he would suffer. And after months of distressing radiotherapy, Lucas was finally given the all-clear and allowed to return home.

Jodie said: "In May he will have been all clear for two years. He's happier and healthier than ever."

She added: "They told us he would never walk without a prosthetic but he has learned and just gets on with it."

Despite having part of his right foot missing, Lucas has started pre-school and can do as much as his classmates.

Jodie, now training as a paediatric nurse to help other children with similar conditions, said: "Lucas is an inspiration to everyone."