A BRAVE youngster with a devastating muscle wasting illness has put out a direct appeal to help him live as normal a life as possible.
Eight-year-old Matthew Brettell is suffering from the life-limiting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which will eventually leave him in a wheelchair permanently.
Now his family are hoping to adapt their Thorney Close home at a cost of £75,000, so that he can play as big a part in family life as possible.
Mum Maria, 34, and dad Gavin, 40, took Matthew to the doctors last January after they became concerned about him and he was then diagnosed in March that year.
“We thought he was just a lazy boy really until last year it got a bit more severe,” careworker Maria told the Echo.
“He was falling over a lot more and we noticed a big difference in his mobility.”
Matthew’s parents, brother Daniel, seven, and sister Naomi, 17, who suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy, were shocked to be told that he had the incurable illness.
“We were told he would be in a wheelchair,” Maria said. “We were given lots of leaflets. As the time went by, we found out about the lifespan and it had all of us worried. It’s been hard. You don’t expect to be told you are going to lose your son in 20 years’ time.
“Matthew is very much aware of it and knows everything about it. He is nine in a couple of weeks and at the moment he is asking a lot of questions.”
The Thorney Close Primary School pupil has to have his legs in splints for up to two hours each day and receives steroids as part of a clinical trial at the Centre 4 Life in Newcastle.
He can’t play out as it is too dangerous. There is no warning when his legs will give way and he will fall over.
The family is eligible for a £30,000 Government grant to adapt their home, and have asked Pennywell-based charity Hope 4 Kidz to help them raise the rest.
Together they have launched Matthew’s Milestones appeal, and Fitz Architects, who are drawing up the plans and overseeing the adaptations, have given their services for free.
The build would see the existing garage demolished to make way for a side extension where Matthew will have his bedroom and a specially-adapted bathroom, accessed from the ground floor by a through-floor lift.
There will also be extensions at the front and back to make the house more wheelchair friendly.
“I’ve seen a huge deterioration and it’s important to us to get the house sorted out,” Maria said.
“It means everything. We are having to carry him up the stairs at the moment.
“When he goes into a wheelchair permanently, this is one of the only places he will feel 100 per cent comfortable.
“I don’t want him excluded from the family, I want to extend the house to meet his needs. I refuse to put my son in a bedroom downstairs. He is a part of this family from the beginning to the end.”
Matthew is being filmed for ITV show Diary of A Children’s Hospital, which will air next month.
Matthew’s Magical Motown Night will be held on August 7 at Humbledon and Plains Farm Working Men’s Club from 7pm until late.
Tickets are £5, available from Hope 4 Kidz on 534 7788 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To donate to the Matthew’s Milestones appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/Maria-Brettell.