Dad of brave West Lothian boy who lost eye to rare cancer thanks medics who saved him

The dad of a brave Scots tot who lost his eye after doctors spotted a lethal tumour has hailed hero medics for saving him.

Kyle Mackay has told how he and partner Chloe Collin’s ‘lives stopped’ when they were given the shattering news that their son Caleb Mackay had a cancerous tumour behind his left eye, just weeks after birth.

Caleb, now two, was born alongside twin brother Carter in August 2021, but just eight weeks later Kyle and Chloe knew something wasn’t right, with Caleb’s left eye drooping. The family from East Calder, West Lothian, rushed Caleb into an eye specialist in Edinburgh, before he was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Children in the capital.

Medics took a biopsy behind Caleb’s eye and discovered a malignant rhabdoid tumour, which was was growing at an alarming rate.

Specialist doctors tried to blast the tumour with chemotherapy in a bid to shrink it, but despite their efforts they were forced to take drastic action and surgically remove Caleb’s left eye and everything surrounding.

Tiny Caleb battled on at the hospital and was given the all-clear after his treatment ended. Now his dad is hoping to give something back to the kind-hearted NHS staff known as the ‘Play Team’, who supported his family in their darkest moments.

Kyle, 23, said: “Having our twins – Caleb and Carter – in August 2021 was the most precious thing ever but also very scary and a huge adjustment.

“Then, when Caleb turned 8 weeks old, everything fell apart. We noticed Caleb’s left eye was drooping in comparison to his right. We just knew something wasn’t right. After seeing the doctor, we were referred to the Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh.

“Nobody knew what was going on so it took three or four visits before we were referred to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.

“The decision was made to take a biopsy of what was going on behind Caleb’s eye.

“We had a dreadful four day wait, then the results showed it was in fact cancerous.

“Caleb was diagnosed with a malignant rhabdoid tumour behind his left eye socket, and it was growing rapidly.

“The news brought our lives to a complete stop. It absolutely broke us. As a parent, you must stay strong for your kids, but this was on a different level. There were arguments, tears and sometimes thoughts of totally giving up.

“The initial plan was for Caleb to have intense chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumour and then surgery to remove anything left over but this didn’t go to plan. The tumour was too aggressive and the chemotherapy wasn’t working.

“Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks of hospital stays, the decision was made to remove Caleb’s left eye and everything surrounding.”

Caleb had the major operation at just 10 weeks, with a following 10 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy.

Kyle has told how he and Chloe, 24, were in and out the hospital every week for two to three days at a time with the whole ordeal taking over their lives.

And he’s praised the hospital ‘Play Team’ who went “above and beyond” for their family, by singing Caleb songs, playing with him and making him “as comfortable as possible.”

Kyle said:“When things were extremely tough, they would come in and sit with Caleb to give us a little break. It didn’t matter what time of the day it was.

“There were times we would drive half an hour back to our home to grab some more clothes without having to worry about Caleb as we knew he was in good hands.”

“In general, the full RHCYP team did an exceptional job and took a massive weight off our shoulders.

“They helped us to have lots of happy times, despite what we were going through, and were always there for a shoulder to cry on when needed.”

Caleb who also has an older brother Kayden, 5, is now the “happiest little guy ever,” as his family look to raise funds for the hospital charity’s Play Appeal.

He added: “The journey we’ve been on has been an incredibly challenging one and it’s far from over, but we still have our boy.

“He’s the happiest little guy ever and if I can take one positive out of all of this it’s that it brought our family closer together and made us realise how strong we are.

“We want to say a massive thank you to each and every member of the hospital team for everything they did for Caleb, and our whole family.”

You can donate here.

Don't miss the latest news from the West Lothian Courier. Sign up to our free newsletter here