WHEN little Joe Haywood was born, his parents were told he had a 50 per cent chance of suffering permanent brain damage.

But thanks to pioneering emergency treatment, he is now a happy and healthy three-year-old who loves nothing more than riding his trike and playfully pulling his pet cat’s tail.

His family are only too aware of the different path the youngster’s life could have taken and are keen to raise money to kit out hospitals with life-saving equipment to help poorly children and babies.

Joe’s grandfather, Chris, has supported MedEquip4Kids through his involvement with the Bradshaw Gass Charitable Trust, which was set up in 1939 by John Bradshaw Gass, who was a founding partner in Bolton firm of architects, Bradshaw Gass & Hope.

In 2011 and 2012, the trust raised £35,947 for the charity to fund equipment for the Royal Bolton Hospital’s neonatal unit.

Now Mr Haywood, from Heaton, is urging people to take part in the Quays Duck Race, at Salford Quays Watersports Centre, on Good Friday, April 18, to help raise thousands of pounds for MedEquip4Kids.

Mr Haywood, founder of Haywood & Co Accountants, in Myrtle Street, Bolton, said: “MedEquip4Kids is an amazing charity, helping to save precious little lives when they need it most.”

His two sons Mike, a junior partner in the firm, who also lives in Heaton, and Charlie, Joe’s father, raised £2,500 by taking part in the Great North Run last year.

It was September 26, 2010, when Joe was born deprived of oxygen at Lancaster Royal Infirmary.

Mr Haywood said: “My daughter-in-law had an extremely long 72-hour labour.

“She went into theatre and had an emergency Caesarean section.”

The baby’s heart rate had dropped dramatically and it was discovered mum Lucy, aged 38, had suffered a uterine rupture and Joe was being pulled out of the uterus and into the body cavity.

Mr Haywood said: “He was born asphyxiated and in a very poor condition, and was transferred to Liverpool Children’s Hospital.”

He had suffered several fits in the five hours after his birth — an indicator of damage to the brain caused by the lack of oxygen — so was transferred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital to receive a new treatment that was only available in four UK hospitals at the time.

Joe was placed on a cooling pad in an incubator for three days, and his brain was cooled to about 33°C.

The treatment — hypothermia therapy for hypoxic ischemic ence- phalopathy — stops the affected cells within the brain from dying, to prevent brain damage.

During that time the consultants told his family that, based on previous outcomes, Joe had a 50 per cent chance of suffering some permanent brain damage, a 25 per cent chance of complete permanent brain damage and a 25 per cent chance that he would suffer no permanent brain damage.

His dad Charlie, aged 40, who grew up in Heaton and now lives in Lancaster, said: “We had to travel to Liverpool, but it just so happened there was a bed free for Joe.

“We feel very lucky that Joe was born when he was — a few years earlier and Joe’s life may have taken a very different path.

“It’s great that they have fundraisers to get more of these cooling mats closer to home.”

Joe’s mum Lucy said: “After three days, Joe’s sedation was withdrawn and he woke up.

“The first positive sign for us was that he opened his eyes and looked around at his surroundings. The second sign was that he drank a bottle of expressed milk when he had previously been fed through a tube. After this, Joe’s medication was gradually withdrawn. We felt that he was a healthy baby with no signs that anything was amiss, and when his MRI confirmed he had suffered no brain damage, we were ecstatic.”

Charlie, a graphic designer, added: “He is absolutely fine. He was given a clean bill of health when he was one.”

Grandfather-of-four My Haywood and his family have supported Med-Equip4Kids since 2009 and specifically the Royal Bolton’s neonatal unit.

MedEquip4Kids, which works to improve the health of children and babies by providing equipment not available from the NHS, has funded a cooling wrap for the unit, and its next project is to provide Bolton Community Midwifery Team with two jaundice meters. Jaundice is a common condition in newborn babies and the midwives at Bolton see about 4,000 cases a year.

It is usually harmless in babies but in severe cases it can lead to serious health problems.

The meters cost £4,592.47 each and will improve the accuracy of the screening process, ensuring those babies that need treatment receive it promptly, but avoiding hospital admissions for unnecessary invasive tests.

Sarah Suthers, MedEquip4Kids appeals fundraiser, said: “We’d like to say a very special ‘thank you’ to Chris Haywood, his family and the Bradshaw Gass Trust for all their support over the years.

“Children deserve the best healthcare and it’s crucial that all the right equipment and facilities are on hand to give them the best possible chance of a healthy future.”

The Quays Duck Race will be part of an Easter activities day and runs from noon to 4pm at Salford Quays Watersports Centre.Supporters can back a duck for £2, by calling the charity on 0161 798 1600 or visit medequip4kids.org.uk.