Lyall finds his voice at last to say ‘mummy’

Lyall Cookward
Lyall Cookward
Have your say

A youngster has found his voice after complex surgery allowed him to breathe unaided for the first time in four years.

Lyall Cookward’s first word on waking up from the operation was “mummy” – which he has never been able to say before.

Now the four-year-old is benefitting more than anyone imagined from the life-changing procedure to remove the tracheostomy he relied on to breathe. It’s the latest triumph for the youngster who has battled health problems all his life.

His mother Steph Ward, from Chapel Allerton, Leeds, said: “It’s amazing. When they told us he was now breathing, we just didn’t know what to say.”

Lyall, who has Down’s syndrome, suffered heart failure soon after birth and needed a risky operation, followed by more surgery.

Later he was diagnosed with a rare lung condition and spent six months in intensive care. After returning home, he was expected to be on a ventilator long-term, possibly for life.

But he came off the machine, though he relied on the tracheostomy – an opening in his windpipe – to breathe.

The risky surgery was performed at Leeds General Infirmary and involved grafting a piece of cartilage from Lyall’s
rib onto his airway to strengthen it.

When surgeons eventually were able to bring him round, he began breathing for himself.

“The first thing he said when he woke up was ‘mummy’,” Sharron said. “There were a lot of tears.”

To donate, log on to