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Canterbury tot had skull taken apart and put back together like puzzle

A dad whose toddler had his skull taken apart and put back together is helping the charity which allowed him to stay close to his son during the traumatic ordeal.

Gavin Connor’s son Orion who is from Canterbury was just one when he was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a condition in which a child’s skull fuses too early, causing problems with growth.

He was taken to Oxford Children’s Hospital, where he underwent major surgery and spent more than a week recovering.

Orion, who had craniosynostosis, had his skull taken apart and put back together. (15321272)
Orion, who had craniosynostosis, had his skull taken apart and put back together. (15321272)

His fitness instructor dad, who works at the University of Kent and lives in Canterbury, says it was the worst time of his life, seeing Orion, who is now two, with tubes coming out of him and temporarily unable to see.

But thanks to Ronald McDonald House, he and his wife were able to spend every moment they could with their son and stay close by in the charity’s accommodation overnight, rather than trek the three hours home to Canterbury or find somewhere else to stay.

They were also given support from staff during what he says was the most awful time for the family.

“He was only one - it was absolutely horrendous,” said Mr Connor, who is doing a 100km walk on August 31 for Ronald McDonald House.

Gavin Connor with his son Orion recovering in hospital
Gavin Connor with his son Orion recovering in hospital

“The surgeon told us they would have to take his skull apart and put it back together, like a puzzle.

“He had tubes coming out of his head and neck to drain the fluid out, his eyes were swollen, he couldn’t see.

“He came out of surgery and he couldn’t see us - he wouldn’t let go of my hand. Even now, he won’t leave my side and I think it’s the experience from the hospital.”

Dad-of-four Mr Connor, 40, says Orion’s head was a normal shape when he was born but it started to become cone-shaped.

“We were told he had craniosynostosis,” he said.

Orion couldn't see after the surgery, which involved taking his skull apart and putting it back together.
Orion couldn't see after the surgery, which involved taking his skull apart and putting it back together.

“It’s when the bones of the skull fuse too early. The brain keeps growing but the skull is not growing with the brain.

“This creates pressure and that can affect speech, eyesight, hearing.”

Mr Connor paid tribute to the amazing surgeons and says the experience would have been much worse had it not been for the staff at Ronald McDonald House.

“They gave us free accommodation, they looked after us, they gave us food - we cannot thank them enough.

“This whole experience has shown us what really matters and that is human kindness.

Orion with his mum and dad, two. Picture: Paul Amos
Orion with his mum and dad, two. Picture: Paul Amos

“This is why I want to raise enough money to help 100 families stay close to their sick children through the Ronald McDonald House charities.

“Orion is going to be three in December. He’s doing amazingly.”

Mr Connor is aiming to raise £2,500 and is preparing for the gruelling 100km walk along the south coast from August 31 to September 1.

To donate click here.

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