Mum shares how mystery ‘pin prick’ bruises led to her son, 3, being diagnosed with leukaemia

“When the doctor said that’s what it was, I can’t describe the pain and fear,” Arran’s mum said

A dream trip home to Scotland for a couple from the Borders turned into a nightmare after their three-year-old son Arran was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Leighann Cochrane, who was born in Selkirk and lived there until her family moved to Dunblane when she was at high school, and her partner, Keith Riddell, also from Selkirk, have based their lives in New Zealand, where Arran was born.

The family planned to spend the break catching up with family and looking for a new home as they planned to move back after eight years in New Zealand.

The Cochrane family were back in Scotland when they noticed Arran’s bruises (Image: family)

Arran, who just turned three in July, is now fighting for his life, and is facing the next five weeks in hospital, with only his parents allowed to visit.

He then faces six months of intensive chemotherapy followed by a further two-and-a-half years of maintenance chemotherapy.

‘Pin prick bruises’

The family’s lives were upturned when they began to notice mystery bruises on Arran - despite not seeing him fall over or bump into anything.

In late July they began to notice the “boisterous” tot, who likes to climb and jump off things, was getting pin prick bruises, and much larger ones were appearing without any indication that he was in pain while on holiday in Oban.

Arran had also begun to complain of being too tired to walk, although he would still have bursts of energy in the playground, and began looking paler than usual.

Arran Cochrane was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia (Image: family handout)

On 5 August the couple took Arran to a GP, who referred them to a paediatrician at Forth Valley Hospital the same day and were warned it may be leukaemia.

The following day, medics at Glasgow Children’s Hospital confirmed Arran has acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The family are now selling their house in Cromwlell, near Queenstown, New Zealand as they do not know what the future holds.

Leighann said they were “destroyed” by the diagnosis, and are anticipating having to shave Arran’s head as his hair has begun to fall out due to chemo.

She said the situation had not fully sunk in and the couple were dependent on their families for getting through it.

‘We were destroyed’

Leighann said: “He initially had quite a few on his legs, we thought it was just from being boisterous. He is a very active child, likes to climb and jump off of everything.

“It was really the two weeks before going to the doctor that we became concerned. They were appearing on his stomach, cheek, his bottom for not reason. Then he had a huge one on his head and lower back with lumps.He would normally cry and we would know what and happened but they just appeared from nowhere.

“Then he started to get little pin prick bruises. I knew something wasn’t right and was worried about his clotting.

“I knew leukemia was a possibility but I think I had blocked it from my head, I’d told myself there was no way it would be that. When the doctor said that’s what it was, I can’t describe the pain and fear. We were destroyed.”

Leighann, who works as a nurse, and Keith, an engineer, both resigned from their jobs as they now face the prospect of staying in the UK indefinitely, and are being helped by friends in New Zealand to pack their belongings and send them over.

They are taking it in turns to stay near the hospital while the first five weeks of chemo begin while Arran is an inpatient.

That will be followed by another six months of intensive treatment and another 2.5 years of maintenance chemo.

Leighann, originally from Dunblane, Perthshire, added: “Some hair has started to fall out today so we will probably shave it soon. I think once his hair is gone he will look sicker and it’s going to hit me harder then that this is all real.”

Fundraising campaign - and an appeal for bone marrow donors

They are fundraising £10,000 to help cover costs including bringing over Arran’s favourite books and toys, including Duplo and his Spiderman collection, as well as clothes for the entire family.

Leighann added: “He has his ups and downs. He hasn’t wanted to get out of bed for a few days but is brighter today. He has a very sore bottom which is distressing for all of us to change.

“We want to bring some of his favorite books and toys - he loves his Spiderman and Paw Patrol toys. We barely brought anything with us as we knew we would be taking some bits back. We want him to have things that our familiar.

“We are overwhelmed with how amazing everyone is.”

Leighann thanked donors who gave blood and platelets which had been used in Arran’s treatment - and asked people to consider going on the bone marrow donor list.

She added: “At the moment Arran doesn’t need bone marrow, we have no idea what his future may hold. Hopefully the treatment works and he never will need a donor.”

A friend, Joseph Thomas, set up the Just Giving page to raise funds for the couple to pay their way.

On the fundraising page he writes: “The money we raise through JustGiving will go directly to Leighann and Keith to help them pay for essentials here in the UK, their remaining bills and commitments in NZ, and moving their lives and possessions (including Arrans favorite toys) back over to settle at home in Scotland.

“As well as other simple things for Arran, like books, games, toys anything that can help him alleviate the pain and frustration he’s dealing with stuck in hospital, with constant biopsies, injections, invasive tubing, oral and IV chemotherapy and everything else this life saving, but tough treatment entails.”

At the time of writing, almost £4,000 has been raised.

Leighann said on social media: “We can't thank these donors enough for helping to keep our wee boy going. I encourage everyone to look at the bone marrow register. This is all I want for my birthday.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​”

You can donate via the Just Giving page.