How you can help battling little Sunderland lad Theodore breathe easier
When little Theodore was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just three weeks old you could forgive his devoted parents for fearing the worst.
The condition will mean eight-month-old Theodore Samuel Marshall will need medication, physiotherapy and special nutritional requirements for the rest of his life.
But a decade ago the condition had a much more tragic outcome and for many sufferers meant a shorter life and frequent long stays in hospital.
Now Theodore’s parents, Elise Watson and Gabriel Marshall, want to show that their little boy is living proof that it’s ‘not all doom and gloom’ for children born with cystic fibrosis any more.
The condition is genetic and can occur when both parents carry the cystic fibrosis gene - which one in 25 people have.
Theodore was diagnosed after the heel-prick test came back abnormal for CF which was later confirmed with a sweat test when he was three-weeks-old.
Dad Gabriel, 37, said: “The RVI have been incredible. There’s a designated team for cystic fibrosis and there is a designated team for each patient or child.
“There’s six or seven per team and when they first tell you it is a bit of a bombardment of information but they do soften the blow as much as possible.”
The professional singer, who works at a resort in Corfu, said: “A lot of people have the old mentality of ‘oh dear’ as CF ten years ago meant a very short life span for a lot of people.
“This is one of the things we’re trying to make people aware of is that it’s not the case any more it’s not doom and gloom for CF - because of the procedures they have implemented at such an early age it can be addressed.
“And he’s living proof of it.
“He’s fit and healthy he’s noisy, inquisitive he’s a very good manner and a very good boy.”
Gabriel, who is originally from South Wales, added: “It’s now a condition that we believe can be maintained into the latter stages of his life as well. It still can’t be beaten as of yet but the science and the funding behind it over the last 10 years means that this little boy can stay alive.”
The family from Farringdon have been raising money since the summer to help pay for a physiotherapy vest for Theodore which he can get from the age of two.
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Mum Elise, 20, said: “We have to do physio which is 20 minutes, obviously trying to get a baby to lie still for 20 minutes is really difficult.
“But this vest means that he can put it on and do whatever he wants while he wears the vest instead of trying to pin him down to the floor.”
Gabriel added: “It’s not just a quick fix from our perspective it’s something that is an investment for his ongoing future and if it can be used into his adult years and so on then brilliant.”
The daily physio can be traumatic for Theodore has never become a ‘normal’ part of his daily routine and is also distressing for Elise and Gabriel.
A vest, which costs £15,000 when bought new, vibrates and is an easier way to administer the vital physiotherapy which helps remove mucus from his lungs and breathing passages.
The couple set up a Go Fund Me page in June meaning they had more than 18 months to raise the money to help pay for a second hand vest, which will cost in the region of £8,000.
“It’s only been going four months so far and we’ve already got £3,768 so almost half,” said Elise.
Her friend Emma Stiles organised a fundraiser in Sunderland and family members have taken on various fundraising challenges to support Theodore.
Gabriel’s goddaughter Violet Deacon had her long hair chopped to help raise funds.
Money have also been donated by holidaymakers who visit the bar where Gabriel performs in Corfu and his touching story has also led to people getting in touch to organise their own fundraisers to support the family - including an upcoming event in Basildon, Essex.
Elise said: “I was hoping that when we’ve raised the money for Theodore that we keep going and set up as a charity and help raise money for other families that would be interested in getting a vest or raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.”
Gabriel added: “We’ve been amazed at the generosity from the public and friends and family and people we don’t even know.
“So we think why stop at Theo, so many other families and kids need help so we’re just going to push and push.”
To donate to help get Theodore the vital vest he needs, visit www.gofundme.com/theo039s-cf-physio-vest