One Year On – Callum’s story

Callum playing football
A year ago, we featured Callum in our film One Day at GOSHCallum was at Great Ormond Street Hospital receiving treatment for a birthmark – one year on, we catch up with Callum and his mum, Katie.

When we filmed Callum a year ago, he was at GOSH for his first laser treatment on his port-wine stain, a vascular birthmark that affects the veins and arteries located above his right eye.

Port-wine stains are sometimes associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome and can cause seizures and learning difficulties. “Luckily for Callum, an MRI scan revealed that his port-wine stain is just vascular,” says Callum’s mum, Katie.

One year on, Callum’s laser treatment is helping to reduce the effects of his birthmark. “The stain could cause cobblestones to appear, which could make his eye droop. Hopefully, the lasering will hopefully reduce the effects by 50–70%, meaning that it won’t be so prominent,” says Katie.


Callum and his brother, Max

“We knew something wasn’t quite right when Callum was born,” says Katie. “The area was completely black and five different doctors thought it was bruising from delivery. One day, I took him to playgroup, and a lady in the toilets recognised it as a port-wine stain: her daughter had one similar.

“I put it forward to the doctors, and they agreed. We were eventually referred to GOSH, which is where he’s had his tests and treatment for the past few years.”

Managing the condition

“Day to day, we have to be careful with the area around his eye so that it doesn’t get bashed, which can be a bit challenging as Callum loves sports, and recently announced he wants to be a stuntman! He also has more regular eye tests to monitor the pressure on his eyes.

“Cosmetically, the port-wine stain looks like a large birthmark, but we want to reduce his other symptoms as much as possible. Callum has very good collagen in his skin, so when he has his laser treatment, the staff can immediately see how well his port-wine stain has reacted. He’s currently booked in for another four laser treatments, and then we’ll see by how much it’s been reduced.”

Changes at GOSH

“At our most recent visit, we were on the new Pelican Ward in the Premier Inn Clinical Building – we’d stayed in Penguin Ward previously in the old part of the hospital. It was a big change! It’s so much more modern, bigger and brighter, and they have lovely play rooms and a family kitchen. These things are important for a family, especially as we’re there all day when Callum has his treatment, with his dad, Glen, and his little brother, Max.

“We’ve been to a few hospitals – which were great – but GOSH is absolutely amazing! The way the staff talk to us as parents and to Callum as a child and patient, it’s completely different. Hospitals can be scary and sad places to be, but the staff at GOSH make it nice and chatty. It’s a very special place. Callum doesn’t like having his treatment, but the staff make the hospital a nice place to be for him. And he always remembers that after his procedure, he’ll get some jam on toast and a Ribena – that also helps!”

Callum and his family

One year on for Callum

“We were really privileged to be part of One Day at GOSH last year. We appreciate everything they’ve done for Callum so far. If there’s anything we can do to raise awareness, we’re delighted to be part of that.

“Callum started school in September 2017, and he’s already reached his targets for his reading, writing and maths. His reading is really coming along – he likes to read the signs when we’re at GOSH. He saw one about donations, and he decided that he’d like to donate to the hospital the next time we visit.

“In the past year, he’s learned how to ride a bike without stabilisers, and he got his ear pierced – that was a special treat after his first laser treatment session. He loves football and was recently scouted for the seven-year-old team, so he now plays for them!

“He’s also been amazing with Max – they really are the best of friends. Callum is so good at sharing with him, and he tries to get him to read and colour in and explains how to do certain things. They make us so proud.”