Make a pact with the Mail to help James
LITTLE James Fewster-Smith's smile hides the heartache of his battle against an unknown illness.
Top doctors are trying to diagnose the condition that has left the courageous two-year-old facing a number of operations that could shape his life.
At birth, his thumbs were drawn into the centre of his little palms and his wrists were bent inwards towards his arms.
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Despite the condition leaving James with severe development delays and needing constant attention, he goes about his days with a loving smile and is an inspiration to others.
The brave youngster currently has a staggering 18 professionals involved in his care, and doctors are trying to diagnose his condition through scientific testing and a process of elimination.
So far in his short life, James has undergone genetic testing at the pioneering Centre for Life in Newcastle and faces complex operations at the Leeds Teaching Hospital with the first one scheduled to be carried out before Christmas.
He will then be in plaster for months before an identical operation can be carried out on his other hand.
Despite his plight, the courageous child never ceases to amaze his parents Christine and Gavin.
When James was born two years ago he was not breathing, and was what medics class a 'floppy baby'.
He now attends a creche run by Starfish Day Care in the SureStart Centre, at St John Vianney's School, but cannot mix with children of his own age because of his developmental problems and has to attend a baby class.
Christine, 27, of the King Oswy area, said: "Because doctors do not know what it is, they think it must be a really rare condition and are currently eliminating different syndromes.
"But he is our little battler.
"Even when he is in hospital he just gets on with it, and hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
"There are 18 professionals involved in his care because of how rare this disease is, whatever it is.
"Hopefully we will get a diagnosis but we have also been told we might never get one and just have to take every day as it comes."
Once a week James goes to a specialist class run by Parents and Children Together (PACT) at Grange Primary School, in Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool. But funding is limited and equipment is desperately needed.
The group is self-funded and sorely in need of new equipment which could change the lives of James and his other disabled young friends.
Ten families, including a newly-formed group for very young children, use the facilities and conditions suffered by the users include spina bifida and cerebral palsy.
Some children – like James – suffer from undiagnosed conditions, but whatever the problems their families see the group as a lifeline.
The Mail is today spearheading a fundraising drive to raise much-needed cash to buy the items that the group needs and give the seven youngsters in the main class the chance to express themselves.
Specially-adapted tricycles cost around 800 and today the Mail is urging readers to join the Make A PACT Appeal to help raise enough to purchase seven of them.
Any extra money raised will go towards helping develop the blossoming baby group.
The Mail is looking to hit a target of around 6,000, and urges everyone to get behind us.
Christine, who manages Pathways to Independence, in Usworth Road, added: "Every aspect of James's life revolves around physio programmes, and to get these tricycles would be fantastic.
"They would be invaluable for James and the other children who attend the group and would make such a difference to their development and lives in general."
Husband Gavin, 28, who works for the homeless charity, 700 Club, said: "The PACT group is really important to James and other children. I don't know what we would do without it.
"It is really important for his development and his social life, as he can interact with children who have similar problems."
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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