A FUNDRAISING drive is underway to help a poorly boy who suffers from a rare condition which means he has trouble swallowing and has to be fed through a tube.
Tiny Leo Hunter is only two years old, yet he has already endured six operations in his short lifetime.
He is only just settling back into home life, having spent the past three months in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he had a central line fitted to administer food.
Leo has to spend 15 hours hooked up to a machine at home which “feeds” through the central line, straight into his stomach.
But his condition isn’t improving.
Leo and his parents, Faye Burnham, 24, and Thomas Hunter, 25, are set to travel to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital to find out if he has a condition called foregut dysmotility.
Leo was born weighing a healthy 7lb 4oz at the University Hospital of Hartlepool on June 16, 2012, after a healthy pregnancy.
Just before Leo’s first birthday, Faye and Thomas, from Horden, noticed that their son wasn’t putting on weight, and he wasn’t keeping his milk down.
He underwent tests at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, and medics inserted an NG tube to try to feed him through the nose and into the stomach.
But this was unsuccessful and resulted in Leo being sick.
He was sent to the RVI, where he was monitored and doctors tried him on different diets.
They tried him on a gastrostomy peg through the stomach, but his condition appears to be worsening.
Faye said the family is under a lot of strain because as well as dealing with Leo, the couple also have a four-year-old son called Tom, who doctors think may have autism as he has been having behavioural problems.
Thomas said: “We need to go to Great Ormond Street to see how severe Leo’s condition is and whether he will have to be on the peg for the rest of his life.” They said it wouldn’t have been possible to cope without the support of Faye’s mum Tracy, dad Robert and sister Sarah.
A campaign is underway to raise money for the family to travel to Great Ormond Street.
At Asda Peterlee tomorrow, where Thomas works, colleague Tony Briggs, 42, from Wingate, will cycle non-stop on a static bike for 12 hours, from 8am-8pm.
Donation buckets will be available, there will also be a tombola and Tony is being supported by Nicola Connor, of Peterlee-based Gym 360, where he has been training for the mammoth feat.
Thomas said: “We are so grateful for what everyone is doing.”
To help the campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/leohunter