Family’s joy turns to heartbreak as twin son is set to spend Christmas in hospital

PUBLISHED: 08:35 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 08:35 22 December 2017

Cohen Messenger in his new wheelchair with his parents Aimee and Kirstie Messenger.
Picture: Nick Butcher.

Cohen Messenger in his new wheelchair with his parents Aimee and Kirstie Messenger. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Archant © 2017

A two-year-old Lowestoft boy with cerebral palsy has received a life-changing specialised wheelchair just in time for Christmas.

Ethan Messenger remains in critical condition in hospital. Photo: Aimee Messenger.Ethan Messenger remains in critical condition in hospital. Photo: Aimee Messenger.

An outpouring of support saw £4,718 raised for Cohen Messenger’s Wish for Wheels campaign, which started in September, after parents Kirstie and Aimee Messenger appealed for help through The Journal.

And while the equipment was destined to be the perfect Christmas present for the family, it has been tragically overshadowed by the news Cohen’s twin brother Ethan will be spending Christmas Day critically ill in hospital.

“We will all be spending Christmas Day in hospital with Ethan,” said Aimee, 33.

The twins were born 15 weeks early and while Cohen has always needed 24-hour care, Ethan, in Aimee’s words was “always the healthy twin – our machine”.

Ethan pictured with his brother Cohen at home earlier this year. Picture: Nick Butcher.Ethan pictured with his brother Cohen at home earlier this year. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Although Ethan battled necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a common condition for premature newborns where a portion of the bowel dies, in the first few months of his life he developed normally and earlier this year he was able to start nursery.

However, since October he has been in a critical condition at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and is not expected to leave until late March.

Ethan was admitted to hospital after a series of severe vomiting episodes. Doctors then discovered a portion of his large intestine was being pulled into the pelvis, cutting off blood supply to the rectum.

A number of operations followed, during which Ethan twice nearly died due to complications.

An abscess on the large intestine resulted in the removal of the large intestine and some of the small.

Ethan has only 70cm of his small intestine remaining and now relies on a colostomy bag.

The two-year-old is no longer able to eat and will therefore be dependent on total parental nutrition (TPN), obtained from a central line through his chest, for the rest of his life. He has also lost the ability to walk unaided.

Kirstie, 35, said: “Ethan has gone from a healthy child to a lifelong medical intervention. He has gone from a child who would eat anything to not being allowed to eat at all.”

She added: “His childhood has basically been stolen.”

Kirstie has spent nearly every night with Ethan since he was taken into hospital. She will sleep next to him on Christmas Eve to ensure he doesn’t wake up alone the following day.

Aimee will then bring his five siblings to visit on the day and labelled waking up on Christmas without Ethan as “the worst pain in the world”.

The couple are once again appealing to the public to help raise funds for a new £1,200 pram needed to carry all the equipment Ethan now needs to survive.

Aimee has called public’s previous generosity “simply breathtaking” as she discussed the impact of Cohen’s chair.

She said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, the best thing Cohen has ever had and is going to improve his quality of life dramatically.

“We will never be able to thank everyone. Words just can’t describe how overwhelmed and shocked we are. Cohen is able to sit in the new chair so much better and he doesn’t cry when we put him in it.

“He was never able to sit comfortably before and would cry so much he would vomit.”

This was particularly dangerous for the two-year old as he has vocal cord palsy which restricts his ability to swallow.

When this would occur his parents would have to use a suction device to stop Cohen from choking.

Cohen also suffers from uncontrolled epilepsy, dystonia and central apnea – a condition which causes him to stop breathing at any time and can require resuscitation day and night.

The new chair allows Cohen to lie flat and is therefore much safer as it allows any medical interventions to be carried out faster and with greater ease.

Anyone who would like to help with the couple’s appeal for Ethan’s new pram can make a donation at

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