A FORMER Larne woman is on a mission to raise enough money to pay for an operation that could give her son a better quality of life in years to come.
Little Oliver Smith, who was born in July this year, suffers from a condition called torticollis, in which his neck muscles were tightened due to difficulties at birth.
This has resulted in an abnormal moulding of the infant’s skull, which could lead to a number of problems in Oliver’s life further down the line.
And as the operation to correct Oliver’s condition is not available on the NHS, his mum Lynsey Poole has launched a fundraising drive to gather the £1,950 required to pay for the procedure.
Lynsey, who now lives in Wigan, has set up a JustGiving web page to allow people to donate directly to the cause.
The 26-year-old said: “From birth Oliver favoured lying with his head tilted and looking up towards the right. When he was two-weeks-old I started to notice flattening to the right side of his head and mentioned to our health visitor and midwife, who both said the condition would correct itself in time.
“I was very concerned when at six weeks I noticed the flattening had become more pronounced and was starting to affect the side of his face. After researching online I realised that this condition was called positional plagiocephaly, which had been caused due to the torticollis, which was creating this abnormal moulding to his skull.
“The NHS will not fund treatment as they class it as a cosmetic issue, but along with future self-esteem problems the misalignment can lead to sight problems, hearing problems and pain and jaw alignment and eating issues if the situation gets any worse.”
Oliver began physiotherapy for his torticollis, which it was hoped would help with his plagiocephaly. After seeing a doctor regarding the moulding, Oliver was referred to a paediatrician who said his issue was quite pronounced, and that it may or may not correct itself in time.
The only way to correct this issue is via helmet therapy, where a specially moulded helmet is fitted onto the child’s head to allow for normal growth to resume as the pressure is taken away from the favoured side.
Lynsey added: “We have been in touch with a company called Technology in Motion who are interested in seeing Oliver and taking 3D scans of his head to assess the severity of his plagiocephaly, and can also fit the helmet providing we can raise the funds. They will only consider doing the treatment if it is not getting better by the age of four months, and as positioning and exercises are having limited effect I doubt that this will happen in this time scale.
“If it is found that Oliver does not need a helmet in five weeks time (which is highly unlikely), then all proceeds from our fundraising will go to Headstart4babies to help other families going through the same issues.”
Headstart4babies is a small charity trying to raise awareness of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, and also to prevent as many families as possible from missing out on the treatment. Since 2004 they have given help and advice to over 1,700 families and raised enough funds to help more than 25 families on a low income proceed with the treatment.
To date, Lynsey’s JustGiving page has raised £130 towards its £1,950 target. “We appreciate all help and support given to us so far. Any amount given, no matter how small, will be hugely appreciated,” she concluded.
To help Lynsey get a little closer to her fundraising target, make a donation at www.justgiving.com/Oliver-David-Smith
Larne fitness instructor Phil Barnhill will be holding a circuits class in aid of Lynsey’s cause at 7.30pm on Tuesday in Larne Bowling and Lawn Tennis Club. The class costs £4 per person and all proceeds will be used to help fund Oliver’s operation.