KIND-HEARTED Wearsiders have helped a toddler reach a milestone in his struggle for survival.
Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised to fund a drug trial potentially to extend the life of Jack Watson, who suffers from a rare disease which could see him face dementia before his next birthday.
The first pot of money has been released to fund the trial, which will cost £600,000 in total, and four-year-old Jack has been put forward for selection.
Across the country, the families of 20 children with Sanfilippo disease have been pooling their efforts to fund the trial at Manchester Children’s Hospital, which has proved successful in other countries.
Mum Gemma, 31, says she’s been overwhelmed by Sunderland’s generosity in donating to the cause.
The latest amount to be added to the fund was more than £600 raised by Sarah Robson and her colleagues at Royal Bank of Scotland, in Fawcett Street.
As well as Sarah doing a sponsored zipwire across the River Wear, she has been selling bracelets in the bank, which held a Wear it Blue Day to raise money for the MPS Society, which supports children with the same condition as Jack.
Gemma said: “I went to school with Sarah and she offered to help after reading about Jack, I’m overwhelmed by how much they, and other fund-raisers have raised.
“I’m amazed that people are still aware of it and are raising money.
“It’s a waiting game now to see if Jack has been selected for the trial which will mean all this hard work has paid off.
“He’s doing canny at the minute, he’s started at Sunningdale nursery and they’ve really helped him to develop.”
Sanfilippo disease causes severe mental and physical deterioration and Jack is not expected to live past his teenage years, but the treatment, Genistein, is offering families hope.
It has been shown to halt the progression of the disease in pre-clinical studies but it needs to be tested in clinical trials before it can be prescribed in the United Kingdom.
Jack, whose courage in dealing with the disease has earned him a Pride of Wearside award, is one of just 150 children in the UK today with Sanfilippo.