Sunderland baby boy's life is saved by North East's Bubble Unit

Bubble baby Taylor Clark is well on the road to recovery following a life-saving bone marrow transplant

Taylor Clark with mum Louise in the Bubble Unit at the Great North Children's Hospital
Taylor Clark with mum Louise in the Bubble Unit at the Great North Children's Hospital

Cute Taylor Clark is finally able to be cuddled by his family after his life was saved by the kindness of someone hundreds of miles away.

The seven-month-old has spent much of his short life in hospital enclosed in a sterile “bubble” at Newcastle’s Great North Children’s Hospital because germs could kill him.

Taylor, of Silksworth, Sunderland, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder (SCID) and his only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant - from 517 miles away in Belgium.

Now, just eight weeks after his transplant, the youngster is doing well as he recovers in the hospital’s Bubble Unit.

Mother-of-three Louise, 29, said: “When Taylor was diagnosed with the condition it was hard to get our head around it. You hear of things like this happening to other children, but you can’t comprehend when it happens to your own child, it’s a nightmare.

“We were told by doctors that Taylor needed a bone marrow transplant or he would not survive, there was no plan B. We were nervous that a bone marrow match would not be found, so we couldn’t believe it when we heard a 10 out of 10 match was available from a male in Belgium.

“It was the best news we could have wished for.”

Little Taylor was delivered at home by his father, Christopher, 38, a print manager, weighing a healthy 9lbs 40z and at first everything went well.

But it soon became apparent that something was wrong when Taylor began to get colds and infections that would not clear up and he was bruising easily.

Louise said: “Taylor was the saddest baby as he would get really upset and cry at everything, he just didn’t look happy. He developed really bad skin and looked in pain. It was awful because I knew that something was wrong as he looked really poorly.”

Taylor was referred to experts at the Great North Children’s Hospital, based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary who diagnosed SCID.

The conditions means that Taylor’s main defence system had not properly formed and he did not have any immune system.

He desperately needed a bone marrow transplant and his two sisters Nia, four, and Cadi, two, were tested to see if one of them could be donor, but they were not a match.

But fortunately, it took only a couple of weeks to find a match abroad and Taylor was given his bone marrow transplant earlier this year.

It was touch and go for Taylor as he went into kidney failure after his transplant, and spent a week in intensive care.

And he spent weeks in isolation in a sterile ‘bubble’ to prevent any infection while his immune system rebuilt following the life-saving procedure.

Louise said: “You have to train yourself out of your maternal instincts as you can’t just pick him up, you become terrified that you’re going to do something wrong and give him germs that will harm him.”

But now Taylor is going from strength-to-strength. Louise added: “We had almost resigned ourselves to the fact that Taylor was going to be a sad baby as he never laughed or smiled, but he is now the total opposite. We have a really, really happy baby who loves playing with toys.”

In October last year, The Journal launched a campaign to raise vital funds for the Bubble Foundation to ensure that pioneering research in tackling disorders of the immune system continues in the region.

The Bubble Unit is one of only two nationally designated services that treats children with little or no immune system. More than 20 years ago the Bubble Foundation was set up in support of the service to raise funds for medical equipment, toys and educational aids, and importantly groundbreaking research.

Louise said: “It is a total blessing that we have the Bubble Unit in the North East as the service is invaluable. The research that they do means that the unit is at the cutting edge of any new developments in treatment.

“The unit is amazing and it’s hard to put into words how grateful we are for everything that has been done for Taylor.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer