A mother was left ‘hysterical’ after learning that her young son had been run over by a lorry and put in a coma after a horror accident – just 48 hours after giving birth to his critically ill baby brother.
Emma Cooper, 36, had two children both fighting for their lives in intensive care units – in hospitals over 70 miles apart.
Her son Billie, 11 – who was living with his father in Coventry, West Midlands, at the time of the accident – was on his bike on his way to school on 13th February 2020 when he was struck by a heavy goods vehicle.
The lorry driver was found not to be at fault after a police investigation deemed the incident an accident.
Billie was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, West Midlands, where doctors feared he might not survive and medics battled to save his limb during three operations.
He was put in an induced coma for three weeks.
Emma had given birth to Connor, now five months, just 48 hours before the accident and the tot was also fighting for his own life – at the same time as his big brother – in ICU at Gloucestershire Hospital, Gloucester.
He had been born suffering from Meconium Aspiration Syndrome – when a baby releases faeces into the amniotic sac which gathers around the lungs and causes respiratory problems – just two days before Billie’s accident.
Emma was recovering from an emergency caesarean when she got the horrific news about her son’s terrifying lorry smash.
Against all the odds both boys pulled through and were even able to meet each other for the first time a month after the horror accident.
Emma, a stay at home mum-of-five, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: ”It has been the worst time of my life.
”The stress has been unreal – having two kids who are both so ill at the same time, especially with them so far apart.
”Emotionally it’s really taken its toll.
”I was worried I wouldn’t be able to bond with the baby.
”I’ve had horrendous ‘mum guilt’ that I’ve not been able to be there for either of them 100 percent.
”I had no recovery time after giving birth, I still feel worn out from it all.
”Thankfully they’re both making amazing recoveries, but I really thought I might lose them both at one point.
”I’m just so grateful they both pulled though – they’re my little heroes.”
On 10th March 2020, Emma’s waters broke a day early and doctors were forced to perform an emergency c-section as the baby’s heart rate was dangerously low.
After the delivery, Connor – who was born at 6.45am weighing 6lbs 1oz – was whisked away to ICU as he was struggling to breathe.
He was given 90 percent oxygen and lots of antibiotics and morphine – with doctors fearing he might not make it.
Emma, who is married to Will Pargeter, 37, a carpenter, said: ”It was so traumatic.
”One minute everything was fine and then he was being taken away.
”I didn’t get to see or hold him properly until the next day.
”He had wires all over him and looked so tiny and sick.
”The doctors were worried but said they’d do everything they could for him.”
But Emma’s ordeal was far from over as just 48 hours later Billie was run over by a lorry.
”I was lying in the hospital bed, sick with worry about Connor, my newborn, when I got the call about Billie’s accident,” she said.
”I dropped the phone and screamed, I was completely hysterical.
”At first I didn’t even realise it was me screaming, it was almost like an out of body experience.
”I called my sister, Emily Nicholls, 31, and she came to get me and we drove straight to Birmingham Hospital where he was being looked after.
”I could barely walk from the c-section, I was hobbling along the corridors trying to run to get to Billie as fast as I could.
”I felt guilty leaving my two-day old but I had to be with my older son.
”He was so sick when I arrived that the doctors didn’t know if he would survive.
”For the next few months I travelled between Birmingham and Gloucestershire as much as possible I could be with them both.”
After her arrival at the hospital, worried doctors broke the news to Emma that Billie’s injuries were extensive.
He had suffered a shattered pelvis, a bleed on the brain, a shattered and de-gloved leg and damage to his internal organs.
The impact of the lorry had de-gloved his leg which left the skin from his shin ridden right up to his thigh.
The medics were also forced to put a temporary stoma bag in place for the schoolboy as the force at which he had been hit had caused internal injuries to his bowels.
Emma said: “When I arrived I was horrified to see the state of his leg, it just didn’t look real.
“He was in agony, it was so upsetting to see.
“He had a huge team of doctors – even some from other hospitals.
“The day after the first operation – which was 12 hours long – they put him into a coma.
“I didn’t know if he’d make it or if I’d ever be able to speak to my boy again.
“He’s such an athletic, active boy, even the thought of him losing the leg was just too much to bear.”
But after 22 days in a coma, three major operations, multiple skin grafts and months of physiotherapy, football mad Billie was finally allowed home on 14th June 2020 and is working hard with physiotherapists to regain full movement in his leg.
Baby Connor had also been allowed home – on 13th April – after making a full recovery after four weeks in hospital.
Proud mum Emma said: ”Billie has been so resilient throughout this whole thing.
“He’s finally getting some mobility back after lots of physio and has gone back to school this week.
“One of the best moments for me from this whole ordeal was when Connor and Billie met for the first time.
“Connor was six weeks old.
”Billie had been desperate to meet his little brother, even when he was so sick he kept asking me about when we could arrange it.
”It was such a beautiful moment – it really was so lovely. I’m so proud of them both.”