Heysham great grandma celebrates 'little battler' Harley's milestone birthday
A Heysham woman whose great grandson had to have all his limbs amputated after contracting meningitis when he was four has just celebrated his sixteenth birthday with the teenager.
Elsie McDonald’s great grandson Harley Lane nearly died after contracting the deadly disease and had to be resuscitated three times at hospital.
Doctors gave him two days to live, but as Elsie said “He was a little battler”, and managed to pull through.
Harley spent four months in hospital but was allowed home in time for Christmas 2009.
He was allowed to attend his parent’s wedding the year after where he had a starring role as ring bearer.
A fundraising appeal was launched for Harley for which many people in the Morecambe and Lancaster area donated, with a total of over £500,000 raised to help with Harley’s living costs after his amputations.
Elsie, 83, of Middleton, said: “My grandson and his partner managed to get him home in Stockport before they got married in 2010.
“Adam and Samantha had to have everything in their house adapted before Harley came home to accommodate his wheelchair.
“They are just waiting to have their house extended.
“Harley has two younger brothers, Tyler, (14) and Oliver (nine).
“Harley is still in his wheelchair and he wears prosthetic legs but he doesn’t like wearing his prosthetic arms.
““He has taught himself to picks things up in the crook of his arm, like cutlery or a glass.
“Harley’s dad Adam took him to school in his wheelchair and he thought it was wonderful, he loved school.
“Harley is going to college in Stockport in September.
“Each time I have seen him he has altered.
“He is still having to go for operations, skin grafts because he is heavily scarred on his face and the back of his head.
“Our Adam has been a marvellous dad to Harley.
“I can’t praise him enough, I’m so proud of him. He took it all in his stride.
“I just want to let everyone know who donated to Harley’s fund locally how he is getting on and how he has progressed.
“At the time a fundraising appeal was launched to go towards his living costs after his amputations.
“I’ve kept all the cuttings from people that have donated so he can look back on them when he is older.
“One of the inmates at HMP Lancaster Castle, which was a prison at the time, sent me a note about a collection the prisoners had made for Harley.
“He said in the letter ‘Harley is truly an inspiration and the bravest boy I’ve ever seen’.
“I also got a cheque from the prison for £186.25 which was a donation on behalf of the prisoners at HMP Lancaster Castle.
“Over £500,000 was raised for Harley’s appeal.
“I just want to say a big thank you to people who donated to Harley’s appeal, you’ve all made a big difference to his life.
“Harley was 16 on June 26 and he came to visit me in Middleton.
“I got him a cake and we had four big balloons for him then we went to Heysham golf club for a meal.”
Sadly Elsie’s husband Harry died five years ago so he didn’t get to see Harley reach the age of 16.
Elsie said: “Harley is well supported by his family, his two grandmothers have helped out enormously.
“I came to Middleton 26 years ago from Stockport, where Harley still lives.
“Harley has come on leaps and bounds. I have not been able to see him for the last 12 months due to Covid and he has grown up a lot.
“He makes a joke of his situation, saying ‘I can’t hug you properly.’
“Maybe as he gets older he might use his prosthetic arms more, but at the moment he doesn’t like using them.
“His dad and his brothers help him out by cutting up his food etc.
“It’s wonderful to watch them.
“He is absolutely marvellous. It’s a way of life for him now.
“How he manages is fantastic.
“He is always cheerful and upbeat, I’ve never heard him moan.
“The doctors are really amazed at him, he has just taken it all in his stride.
“He knows he has a job to do and he just gets on with it.
“He is an inspiration to me.
“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone in the area where we live to show people how Harley is getting on and he is turning out to be a very sensible lad.
“He will have to have operations for the rest of his life I think.
“However he never moans about it. He is turning out to be a damn good lad. I can’t praise him enough.”
Harley’s dad Adam and mum Samie said: “Harley has just left high school and celebrated his 16th birthday recently.
“He is looking forward to starting college in September.
“His journey has been a tough one but he has met and beaten all the obstacles put in his path with fantastic independence and determination.
“He is looking forward to starting his next steps in education as he is going to study something he is really interested in, English literature, film studies, creative media production and photography.
“The future will be tough but we all have full faith he will tackle anything put in his way.”