NHS won’t pay for special helmet to help Sunderland tot with flat head syndrome

AJ Brown, of Telford Road, Thorney Close, Sunderland,  who has flat head syndrome now has a special helmet to wear, pictured with his mum Amanda Renney and dad Adam Brown.

AJ Brown, of Telford Road, Thorney Close, Sunderland, who has flat head syndrome now has a special helmet to wear, pictured with his mum Amanda Renney and dad Adam Brown.

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A FAMILY has been left devastated after being told the NHS would not pay to correct their toddler’s deformity.

Mum Amanda Renney and partner Adam Brown now face raising thousands of pounds to help their 14-month-old son Adam Junior, known as AJ, who was born with flat head syndrome.

The Thorney Close youngster has to wear a special helmet for the next 12 months in a bid to correct his misshapen skull.

His family have to raise £2,000 for the cost and maintenance of the helmet as they were told by doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital that the NHS would not pay for the treatment.

Amanda, 26, who is also mum to Erika Finch, five, said: “The doctors said they don’t pay for the helmet because it’s seen as a cosmetic problem. But it’s also been classed to us as a deformity. Women are given breast enlargements and people are given braces on the NHS and they’re cosmetic problems, so I don’t see why these helmets can’t be paid for. It’s something that affects a lot of children.”

Though AJ was born with a misshapen head, his parents were told not to worry by health visitors and doctors who said it should correct itself as he got older.

It wasn’t until AJ was taken to A&E in January with bronchitis that an emergency doctors raised serious concerns about the shape of his head.

“The doctor was more concerned about the shape of his head than the bronchitis,” said Amanda. “Until that point we hadn’t been too worried.”

Because of the seriousness of AJ’s flat head syndrome, officially known as plagiocephaly, he will have to wear a corrective helmet for 23 hours a day for the next year, instead of the usual six months.

Amanda said: “We’ve been told that the best time for babies to start wearing the helmet is when they are six months old when the skull is still soft, but we didn’t realise how serious the problem was until AJ was over a year old so he will have to wear it for longer, the poor thing.”

The family travelled to a private clinic in Leeds so that AJ could be measured for the helmet which is made in America.

Though use of the helmet is controversial in medicine, Amanda and many other families believe it is preferable to the alternative.

“We were told by doctors to wait until he is two-years-old and then they would look at corrective surgery for AJ. No parent would want their child to have surgery when a helmet could be an option instead,” said Amanda.

She added: “We’ve been told that because of how old he is now the helmet won’t make his head perfect but it will make a significant change.”

Amanda is hosting a fund-raising night to help pay for the cost of AJ’s helmet and future trips to specialist clinics to have it tightened.

It will take place at the Grindon Mill pub on June 7 from 7pm. It will include a charity wax, tombola, raffle and karaoke. Barclays Call Centre have pledged to match £750 donations made on the night.

Anyone wanting to donate to the fund can visit www.justgiving.com/Amanda-Renney or Text AJBR87 and the amount to 70070.