A YOUNG boy who sadly passed away due to a rare medical condition is being honoured through the creation of a fund held by Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity in his name.
West Lothian youngster Paul James Cockburn – who was universally known as PJ – was just 12, when he died as a result of his condition, Short Bowel Syndrome.
The illness meant PJ, from Linlithgow, was forced to undergo a liver transplant when he was just 11 months old, carried out at Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital.
Despite steadily improving and managing his condition throughout his childhood, PJ’s health started to deteriorate in early 2017 until his mother and father, Jill and Paul, were given the heart breaking news in June that there was nothing more doctors could do to save him.
Now the family have set up the ‘PJ Foundation’ to raise funds for the Edinburgh Children’s Charity Hospital (ECHC).
PJ’s Aunt, Elaine Campbell, said: “The condition PJ was born with meant he underwent surgery at a very young age and we were actually told he had just days to live before the life-saving procedure.”
PJ underwent numerous operations which were carried out at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, where he was treated many times during his life.
ECHC provides vital support to the hospital and to a number of other locations across east central Scotland where children and young people are treated, including St John’s hospital in Livingston.
Elaine added: “Initially, he didn’t do so well, but slowly he started to pick up and eventually was able to attend Linlithgow Primary School, and at home would often be seen riding his bike and play outdoors with his friends, like any young boy.
“However, at the tail end of 2016, he wasn’t as well, so Jill and Paul took him for reassessment and last February we were told that he would need a quadruple transplant to give him an extra kidney, enhance his bowel and pancreas and give him a new liver.
“So we initially set up fundraising to cover the costs of the time spent down in Birmingham, where the specialists are based, as Jill and Paul looked after PJ full time and had to have long periods off work.”
In May 2017, while he was on the transplant list, PJ became unwell during a big family break at Crieff Hyrdo.
Elaine said: “He had been enjoying quad biking and family time earlier on in the holiday but nearer the end, he wasn’t too well and was admitted to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh, and eventually taken by air ambulance to Birmingham.
“The doctors tried lots of different treatments but we were given the news that there was nothing they could do so Jill and Paul took him home.
“He’d always wanted a dog so we managed to get him one he was thrilled, and smiling and patting his new dog before he closed his eyes again and passed away in his sleep the following day.”
Despite the family’s grief, they were determined to honour the brave schoolboy’s memory and set up the PJ Foundation to raise money for ECHC.
They also wanted to raise awareness on donor organ donation, which the family started to support on a voluntary basis when PJ was very poorly.
The charity is close to their hearts and they have seen first hand how its work can help allow youngsters in hospital to be a child and forget they’re a patient to create many precious memories.
Elaine said: “PJ spent so much time in hospital and used to like the activities and games that ECHC provided.
“He loved nothing more than playing the PlayStation with his friends so the aim is to raise money for entertainment like TVs and games consoles but also to fund research for pioneering treatments.
“So far we’ve managed to raise around £6,000 and we’re selling items such as pens, badges and teddies on the Facebook page with the PJ logo and hope to have a website very shortly.
“PJ underwent some new treatment techniques so if we can raise money to help develop these and prevent another child going through what he did, then we’ll be so proud.”
ECHC raises funds to help with a range of things to help children during their stay in hospital, from new pieces of medical equipment to toys and activity days.
Sue Diamond, Community Fundraising Manager at ECHC, said: “The PJ Foundation is such an amazing initiative and a really fitting way to celebrate the life of such a special little boy.
“PJ had a smile that could light up a room and I know with the community’s fundraising led by his incredible family and friends, his memory is helping to put a smile on so many more children’s faces.
“We can’t thank the family enough for their amazing support and the fantastic money they have raised so far.”
To donate or find out more, visit: https://www.facebook.com/PJFoundation1310/
Visit ECHC at https://www.holyroodpr.co.uk/406
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