'He gave his life to the children here but forgot himself' - devoted humanitarian caring for children in East Africa appeals for funds to treat Lyme disease
An inspirational humanitarian who has devoted his life to caring for children and animals in East Africa is in urgent need of his own life-saving treatment.
John St Julien, 34, from Blackhall Rocks, is seriously ill with Lyme disease after suffering several tick bites while working in Tanzania.
The dad-of-one came to the country as a volunteer in 2013 and founded charity Share Tanzania a year later.
It has helped thousands of children born into poverty and child labour into education.
John also built Featherstale Children's Village, the home of more than 60 disabled children in crisis, and founded animal rescue, Kilimanjaro Animal Rescue.
But it was while working with the animals that John got bitten by ticks several times over the years.
And now he has been diagnosed with Lyme disease and Babesia, a parasite that infects the red blood cells.
The illness has taken most of his physical abilities and to recover John now needs urgent specialist treatment in Germany.
But that treatment comes at a cost of £34,000 and so his wife Fritzi Flora St Julien, has set up a Go Fund Me Page in a bid to raise funds.
In just 24 hours of the page being set up the page has raised £32,413 as love for John pours in from supporters around the world. So far the page has now raised £41,960.
Fritzi, from Hamburg, Germany, met John in Tanzania while volunteering at a nearby school, and the couple have a son Azlan Arthur Shikoba St Julien, aged 15 months.
On the donations that have flooded in, Fritzi, 24, said: “It simply means the world and more to us.
“John is bedridden and declining.
“Without this help he would be permanently disabled or worse, so it means literally everything and more to us.”
John, whose family still live in Blackhall Rocks, said of his work in Tanzania: “I’ve been here for six years on and off building the charity and I’m guardian to children here too.
“I’ve got a decent YouTube following by now also due to it, which is how I built the charity up.”
He started the charity by setting up a Facebook page to find sponsors for children who couldn’t afford school fees and after one year he had 111 sponsors.
Since then it has grown massively, with the couple now caring for 110 children, 47 of which have special needs.
But it was in October 2017, that the illness took its hold and John's body shut down.
He flew to home to England in January 2018 where doctors found he had Babesia.
Then in April 2018 while in Germany, John became ill again and specialist found Lyme disease.
In June, John's heart swelled, he was rushed to hospital where he discovered he had just 3% heart function left before failure.
John was airlifted to Kenya, where he spent seven days on the cardiac ward.
John then travelled back to Germany for specialist intensive treatment in Hamburg, called apheresis and antibiotic therapy.
Doctors found he had 20 times the toxic level of cobalt in his bloodstream, and two times the toxic level of arsenic.
In January 2019 John returned to Tanzania and has been bedridden since.
He is receiving daily infusions to bring down swelling, boost his body with vitamins and minerals and kill the bacteria.
But John is still so weak and has begun to have convulsions, seizures and constant heart and breathing issues.
His only hope is to undergo treatment at the tropical disease hospital in Germany where he will undergo tests including neurological investigations.
He will then need hyperthermia treatment followed by apheresis and blood washing to remove all toxins and remaining poisons.
Afterwards he will need to undergo stem cell therapy.
Fritzi said: “When he got infected we can not tell for sure, but when I met John in 2014 he was already in daily pain.
“With all the work and need around us, and the bad medical care over here, John did not get chance to get properly tested and diagnosed until May 2018, just after the birth of our son Azlan.
“He got diagnosed in Hamburg in Germany and showed positive to nearly every strain of Borrelia that is discovered so far.
“He also showed positive on Babesia and we are still not sure what else might be there, undiscovered.
“This is our hope for the first step of the treatment fundraiser.
“We will check John from head to toe and make sure we do not miss anything.
“He gave his life to the children here, he loves them like his own.
“But he forgot himself over caring for the children who have no one else to care for them.”