THE heartbroken parents of a four-year-old boy who died after travelling to Africa have paid tribute to their “lovely and perfect” son.
Avril and Jim Devaney, of Halkyn, said smiling, blond-haired Jamie was a “remarkably kind little boy” who touched the lives of everyone he met.
“Jamie just loved doing things. He was so full of life and energy,” said Avril.
“He used to go out on his tourer bike with his dad and waved to everybody he passed.
“If he saw somebody who needed help he would always offer it. He was so special.”
Jamie attended the playgroup at Ysgol Rhos Helyg in Mold and was due to start in the reception class next month. A funeral, thanksgiving and celebration of Jamie’s life will take place on Thursday at St Mary’s Church, Halkyn, at 11am.
“He really loved school and used to get upset if it was closed and during the school holidays,” said Avril.
“One day we even had to take him to the school just to prove to him it was shut.”
Jamie travelled to Uganda with his parents on July 11 to support Jim, who was part of a four-strong team attempting to ride 330 miles across Africa for charity.
Avril and Jim both work for the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust at the Countess of Chester Hospital and wanted to raise £10,000 for the mental health ward at Kisiizi Hospital.
They said Jamie had enjoyed a wonderful day exploring a wildlife hospital before falling ill and being rushed to hospital.
“When he became sick Jamie was taken to Kisiizi Hospital. We hoped it would be a 48-hour bug but by the third day we could see it was something more serious,” she said.
“By the Saturday he was badly dehydrated and was being given IV fluids by the nurses.”
With Jamie’s condition deteriorating Avril contacted Jim, who was about 30 miles into his ride. Jim raced to the hospital in a taxi to join his wife by their son’s side.
Doctors diagnosed Jamie as suffering from Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS), a rare disorder which can cause the body’s organs to shut down.
With Jamie’s kidneys beginning to fail, the family travelled by ambulance to the Ugandan capital Kampala.
“When we got to Kampala we were told the hospital was unable to treat Jamie as they didn’t have dialysis for children,” said Avril.
Doctors then flew Jamie and his parents by air ambulance to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
“The nurses and doctors were fantastic. They put Jamie on a ventilator but all they could really do was stablise him and try to support his organs,” said Avril.
Fighting back the tears, she described how a team of six doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to make her son comfortable.
“But on the Friday we were given hope when Jamie woke up and started to respond,” she said
“They took him off the ventilator and, although he couldn’t speak, he could squeeze my hand and move so we knew he could hear us.
“But his condition deteriorated again and Jamie passed away on Monday, July 25. We are not sure what caused his illness yet.”
Avril and Jim are to create ‘The James (Jamie) Devaney Memorial Fund’ in memory of their son.
“We are determined some good will come of this, “ said Jim.
“Jamie had such an impact on everybody he met. The staff at Kisiizi Hospital will remember Jamie’s life by holding a service at the same time as our service in Halkyn.”
Avril said: “The essence of the service will be to celebrate his life. We want to remember the joy of Jamie.
“Jamie’s favourite colour was red so we are asking everybody to wear bright colours.
“We have been touched by the number of people to have contacted us. The compassion shown is amazing.”
The couple said they wished to thank everybody who had supported them in the past week.