Brave Isaac will be a star turn

Isaac Atyeo with mum Clare.
Isaac Atyeo with mum Clare.

LITTLE Isaac Atyeo has such a severe allergy to animal fur – simply stroking a dog could kill him.

Merely walking past a dog sparked a reaction which left him fighting for his life in a hospital’s intensive care unit.

He takes 18 different tablets each day and leaves home armed with extra anti-allergy medication should he come into contact with animals.

His school even took the unusual step of informing parents of his condition to prevent parents from walking their dogs to the gates.

But the brave youngster refuses to let his condition beat him – and tonight will take to the stage

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as part of a festival of song and dance.

His proud mum, Clare 32, said: “He is such a little star. He just gets on with it. He is always smiling and he amazes me with his ability to cope, he is a real inspiration.”

Isaac was born in May, 2005, weighing a healthy 11lb 3oz.

But at six weeks old his mum noticed he was suffering from a persistent wheeze and his condition began to deteriorate.

His condition worsened and specialists at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) eventually diagnosed him with chronic lung disease when he was two - a condition which left him prone to allergies.

When he was just two he collapsed after simply walking past a dog and suffering a severe reaction which saw him rushed to hospital.

And a year later, in 2008, he spent more than a week in the high dependency unit (HDU) of the RVI after a similar episode.

Clare, who lives in Masefield road, Hartlepool, with partner Paul Norris, 33, a bio-medical student and he other children, Jacob Atyeo, 12, Tegan Ateyo, 11, Hannah Ateyo, nine, 20-month-old Henry Norris and one-week-old Matilda Norris, said: “I was terrifying.

“It was a German Shepherd dog. We just walked past it and he began to get short of breath and collapsed. He was rushed to hospital and spent a week-and-a-half in HDU.

“We have been through hell at times. But you’ve just got to get on with things and we are determined to make sure Isaac has as normal a life as possible.”

Isaac, a pupil at St Teresa’s Primary School, also suffers from allergies to dust and a string of foods, including bananas, kiwi fruit, salmon, eggs, strawberries, wheat, gluten and nuts.

He is prone to pneumonia, travels to the RVI for treatment every other week and has been fitted with a portable medication pump which helps to keep his condition stable.

He also takes a range of medication, including immunosuppressants and other drugs - up to 18 tablets each day - which he will have to take for the rest of his life.

Oxygen supplies are kept at home, in the car and at school and he is armed with other drugs to take and a portable injection pen should he suffer a reaction.

He warned his parents if he sees an animal nearby and if he has to walk past a dog, his mum places her hands over his mouth and nose and he holds his breath - such is the severity of his condition.

But courageous Isaac is determined not to be beaten and recently joined the Hartlepool Footlight Youth Theatre.

Clare added: “Isaac is such a little fighter, he won’t be beaten.

“It’s hard sometimes with his allergies, but we all used to it now and Isaac just takes it all in his stride.

“I was reluctant when he wanted to follow his sister’s footsteps and join the youth theatre, but Paul and Nicola Thompson at the theatre are really good with him.

“He doesn’t know his own limitations, and we have got to say ‘stop for a minute’.”

Isaac has now has been a member of the youth theatre for about a year and is looking forward to taking part in the forthcoming production which will feature a mix of popular, contemporary and traditional music, including songs by Radiohead, Coldplay and Harry Belafonte.

Theatre founder Paul Thompson said: “Despite his illnesses, Isaac gets on with things with a smile and he really is an inspiration to us all.

“We’ll all be so proud of him when he takes to the stage.”

Isaac and his 80-strong troupe will take to the stage The Festival of Song and Dance at 7pm tonight and tomorrow, with a matinee performance also on stage at 2pm tomorrow.

Tickets, costing £8 or £7, are still available, particularly for both Saturday shows, from the Town Hall Theatre box office on (01429) 890000.

Hartlepool Footlight Youth Theatre is based within the premises of Hartlepool Families First in Greatham Street, with sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays from 6pm, 7.30pm or 8.30pm, depending upon members’ ages.

For more information about the theatre, visit www.thefootlights.net or call (01429) 867060.