Alicia Sotherland

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The hospital also provided them with accommodation.

On being diagnosed with craniosynostosis, the family were told he would need an operation at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

"We were told to give it some time because it was swelling from the birth, but when nothing changed, we mentioned it to the health visitors and ran it by our doctor."

"She uses every spare minute she has to play with him because they are really close."

is making a real fuss over him," added Natalie.

Diane, who works for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, helped them to get funding from Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity to cover their daily living expenses while they were there and arranged for Birmingham Children's Hospital to reimburse most of their travel expenses.

Clayton was sent for tests at Sunderland Royal Hospital's neo natal unit and later the RVI in Newcastle.

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"As far as the doctors can see, at the moment everything is looking good for him," said Natalie.

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"I knew there were dangers of the operation," added Natalie, "but if things continued the way we were, his brain could have been squashed, causing serious damage.

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Natalie and Clayton's dad George, 43, who are both unemployed, struggled to meet the costs to go with their son, but they were helped by the family's health visitor, Diane Watson.

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Natalie and George have also said they will be looking to raise money for Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity as a thank you for their help over the past few months.

"But there is still a 50/50 chance he will have a speech impediment and he might have to wear glasses.

By the time the Downhill youngster had his six week development check, his head was bigger than expected and, according to his family, was "shaped like a rugby ball".

"I was in two minds whether he should have it at one time, but we realised that it was for the best, and it was the right thing to do for him."

Hours after a normal birth in February, Clayton Strand's parents noticed his head looked swollen, but this was put down to the delivery.

Clayton will now continue his recovery ahead of check ups at Sunderland before another trip to Birmingham in March.

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´╗┐Sunderland's little miracle home for Christmas

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complaint about editorial content which relates to inaccuracy or intrusion, then contact the Editor by clicking here.

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"A lot of Vans Disney Collection what has happened to Clayton has gone over Laurie's head, but Leah understands things and she Vans Classic

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"We just have to wait and see."

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A gruelling but successful five hour operation took place on October 31, and although Clayton suffered side effects, including an allergic reaction due to the medication he was being given, he returned home to Sunderland less than a week later and is now preparing for his first Christmas surrounded by his loving family, which includes big sisters Leah, 11, and Laurie, eight.

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