The Houghton teenager whose heart is slowly being crushed - but a £10,000 operation could change his life, if you can help

A Houghton teenager needs life-changing surgery to stop his heart and lungs being crushed.

Jacob Brown, 14, has been diagnosed with the condition Pectus Excavatum.

It means his rib cage is growing inwards and has caused the sternum to sink into his chest. There is just 3.5 inches between his sternum and spine.

This is putting extreme levels of pressure on his internal organs, and particularly his heart and lungs.

Jacob Brown, 14, who needs a life-changing operation, and with his sister Hollie.

But now, his family has launched a fundraising plea to try and get the £10,000 needed for Jacob to have surgery.

Throughout his life, Jacob has suffered from breathing difficulties which was originally diagnosed as asthma but an inhaler didn’t improve his condition.

It was not until a year ago that the situation unfolded when Jacob went for a run where he seriously struggled to breathe and experienced unbearable chest pains. He finally discovered he suffers from the condition.

Doctors have advised him not to exercise as this could cause his heart to overwork and could potentially be deadly. Jacob used to be a regularly

Jacob Brown who needs a £10,000 operation.

active teenager who dreamt of a career in the army.

This year has been tough for the 14-year-old who also caught an infection. The pressure on his lungs meant he was bed bound, and his family regularly had to check up on him throughout the night, just to check he was still breathing.

“To see my brother in this condition is awful.” said caring sister Hollie Ferguson, 19. “But we’re determined to get Jacob the help he needs.”

The surgery involves placing a series of metal bars in Jacob’s ribs.

Jacob and his sister Hollie Ferguson.

Over time, these bars will push the sternum outwards to improve the depth of his chest, freeing the pressure on his organs and allowing him to live his life normally.

As part of her fundraising efforts, Hollie has set up a GoFund Me page and the family is also planning to host an event in their local community to raise awareness and much-needed funds.

A message on the Go Fund Me page says: “He cannot do normal child things such as play outside with his friends or ride his bike, which means he is stuck inside for the majority of his childhood. On top of this he must sit helpless while his dreams of joining the army slip away as his condition worsens.”

The message says that the operation that Jacob needs is not offered on the NHS in England.

Jacob has shared this photo of his chest to raise awareness of his condition.
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The family say that Houghton and Sunderland South’s MP Bridget Phillipson is supporting the campaign.

Hollie and Jacob’s mother, Rachel Ferguson said: “We know the cost-of-living crisis is hitting everyone hard right now. We are a family of myself, my husband and six children, and we just don’t have any alternative but to ask others for help. Even if people can give a small amount, it would mean the world to everyone in our family.”

Hollie is a student of Engineering with East Durham College, studying engineering at The Technical Academy campus. She is now completing an apprenticeship with Advanced Electric Machines and attends college on day release.

Jacob is home educated and is currently enrolled on East Durham College’s home education programme.

Those interested in donating to Hollie and Jacob’s fundraising efforts should visit the GoFundMe page at

Jacob Brown and his sister Hollie Ferguson.