Donors raise £25k for stem cells to save Chloe’s sight

A LITTLE girl is heading to China for potentially sight-saving stem cell treatment after a fundraising target was smashed by almost £10,000.

A LITTLE girl is heading to China for potentially sight-saving stem cell treatment after a fundraising target was smashed by almost £10,000.

Chloe Wilson, from Forrester, was born with septo-optic dysplasia – a rare condition which means her pituitary gland has not developed properly.

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As a result, the 19-month-old’s optic nerve is underdeveloped, leaving her with hormone deficiencies and very little vision. Mum Kayleigh and dad Scott Wilson, both 22, started a campaign in April to raise £15,000 to take her to the Chinese city of Guangzhou to undergo a controversial stem-cell treatment not available in the UK.

But thanks to the efforts of many other fundraisers and donors – some of whom have never even met the family – the total raised now stands at nearly £25,000.

Kayleigh, a nursery assistant, said: “I thought we were looking at a year-and-a-half before we hit our target. Now we’ve gone nearly ten grand over it in less than half that time.

“What really surprised us was how many people took it upon themselves to organise things on Chloe’s behalf, some that we didn’t even know were happening until they gave us the money they raised.

“And we were so touched by the number of donations we got from people we didn’t even know. Neighbours I had never met were coming up to me in the street and just handing me money, it was crazy.

“We got some quite large donations, just over £4000 from the Longstone Inn and £5000 from the bar where Scott works. Chloe’s grandparents on her dad’s side work for Royal Mail and they sent an e-mail round all the branches asking if people wanted to help raise money – we got about £5000.

“Some of that came from a postman down in England who walked Hadrian’s Wall for Chloe – he’s never even met her. He said he had grandchildren too and knew how lucky he was they were all healthy.”

The extra money will go towards buying more stem cells, which the family hopes will improve the chances of the treatment being successful, when they fly out to China in January.

Kayleigh said: “We originally ordered seven bags of stem cells because that’s what we thought we would be able to afford, but now we have put her down for more.

“Stem cells from umbilical cords will be dripped into her three times a week for three weeks. The cells will travel around her body and find places where they are needed, which will hopefully include latching on to her optics.

“We’re pleased that it’s not a particularly invasive treatment. Chloe already has to get blood every fortnight and next year she will need keyhole surgery to correct a heart murmur, so we wouldn’t want to put her through any more.”

Though some experts argue that the treatment is unregulated and untested, Kayleigh says other children have already benefitted from it.

“We are in contact with a family down in Leeds whose daughter, who was totally blind and unable to stand, has been to the clinic and it worked.

“We just want to thank everyone who has helped give us this chance. People have been amazing,. Their generosity will stay with us forever, and we’ll make sure Chloe knows all about it when she is older.”