THE mother and sole carer of a disabled Newport man who has undergone more than 100 surgeries has spoken of the struggle she has faced getting her son moved to a property nearer to her own.

Nick Potts was born with spina bifida (malformation of the spine), hydrocephalus (water on the brain), six missing vertebrae and clubbed feet, and doctors said he wouldn't live longer than a year.

Although he beat the odds and is now aged 44, Mr Potts has had to have more than 100 surgeries and has needed a carer his entire life.

South Wales Argus: Nick Potts

Nick Potts

Mum Patricia Van Den Heede, who has been his carer for the majority of his life, but has become increasingly concerned about the distance between her home in Caerleon and her son's in Malpas.

"In total Nick has had more than 100 operation in his life, but none like this last year," she said.

South Wales Argus: Patricia Van Den Heede

Patricia Van Den Heede

Ms Van Den Heede explained that, although she had been her son's primary carer for the majority of his life, around 10 years ago he had begun to live more independently after meeting his future wife Ngaire. They married two years later.

"She was the kindest lovely soul and she loved him for who he was," said Ms Van Den Heede.

Tragically, Ngaire died on December 4, 2019 following a short illness.

South Wales Argus: Nick Potts and his late wife Ngaire

Nick Potts and his late wife Ngaire

"We were both devastated," said Ms Van Den Heede, who assumed the role of her son's sole carer once more.

"By this time his health had deteriorated," she said.

"I was so scared, I'm older and not so well."

By February the next year, Mr Potts was having five epileptic seizures a day.

More surgery was deemed necessary and he spent eight hours in theatre.

Ms Van Den Heede explained: "He had had enough by this time and expressed a wish for a 'do not resuscitate' statement on his file."

Mr Potts, now home from hospital, then suffered a fall from his mobility scooter, injuring his chest.

Now, Ms Van Den Heede is working to get her son, currently living in Malpas, moved from his current home - run by Newport City Homes (NCH) - to another property nearer her own.

"Nick was refused at our first attempt as he was adequately housed," she said.

"Our second try last week was refused, as he is on the highest medical points.

"I believe they are not looking at the safety of this situation.

"My son is at serious risk being so far from me."


A spokesperson for NCH said: “To allocate homes, we use Newport City Council’s prioritised band-based system. Using this ensures we work in an open and transparent way that treats all applicants fairly."

This system places applicants into one of four prioritised bands depending on their individual requirements.

Individual applicants will be allocated 10 points for each need identified from the highest band they are placed in. This will determine their priority level.

“We are aware of Mrs Van Den Heede’s request for her son to move closer to her," continued the NCH spokesperson.

"Unfortunately, homes in Caerleon are in high demand and do not become available often.

“The more flexible Mr Potts and his family are, the more likely they are to be successful.

“We’ll work with Mr Potts and his support officer to make sure he meets the criteria for any future bids to reduce the likelihood of his application being unsuccessful.”