Tyrone mum ‘moving mountains’ to help her baby boy battle rare spinal condition

Devoted - Donna Ferris with her baby son Charlie at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia
Devoted - Donna Ferris with her baby son Charlie at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia

A Tyrone family say they have been “blown away” by the generosity, prayers and support given to them on their journey to the US to correct their baby son’s spinal curve.

Gorgeous Charlie Ferris, from Ballinderry, was four months old when he was diagnosed with infantile scoliosis, a rare condition affecting which, if left untreated, can deform the chest wall and crush the lungs, heart and other organs

Charlie Ferris and his dad Jody at hospital in Philadelphia

Charlie Ferris and his dad Jody at hospital in Philadelphia

Faced with the devastating diagnosis and the possibility that Charlie could be facing painful and invasive surgery at such a young age, his parents Donna and Jody set out to research the condition and were put in touch with the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, which offers a form of treatment which, so far, has borne “phenomenal” results for their little boy.

Donna, Jody and Charlie have just returned from the US hospital where they have received extremely positive results that show the curve in Charlie’s spine has reduced dramatically thanks to his most recent spell in a special Methas cast.

Speaking from her home, Donna explained that, while the decision to travel to Philadelphia for this form of treatment was not an easy one to make, it is one which she and Jody are determined to follow through so that they can give Charlie the best chance in life.

“Shriners Hospital is a non-profit organisation which is funded by donors and we met some of the donors when we were in Philadelphia with Charlie this time around”, Donna continued.

“It is with their help that we are able to do this for Charlie, and I would really like to make sure that is pointed out to the people at home who have been so supportive to us. The money people have been raising for us will pay for flights, car hire and subsistence, but we are not being charged for the treatment for Charlie, and we are very lucky this has turned out the way it has.

“I found out about the hospital by a Facebook page which put me in touch with people going through similar situations. I felt I wasn’t alone and just followed my gut, and in my gut I knew there was something better that we could try for Charlie. You would move mountains for your children and to know that people in our community are praying for us, raising money, lighting candles, means the world to us.”

The Tyrone and Mid Ulster communities have thrown their weight behind the family’s fundraising campaign.

As well as a Bingo Night in Tobin Youth Centre, and a Guess the Score football challenge, which have already raised large amounts of money for the little blonde haired beauty, a fundraising committee set up in their hometown of Ballinderry is also putting finishing touches to two country music events in Kinturk Cultural Centre for July and August.

Indeed, such has been the commitment of local people to ensure enough money to allow the family to travel back and forth to Philadelphia for the treatment, that Charlie’s journey with the condition Infantile Scoliosis even reached the road racing star, Malachi Thomas Mitchell, who gave his support to the little boy just days before his tragic death at this year’s North West tournament.

The rising English sporting star happily posed for photos with Big Ted, a cuddly toy which has become the mascot of Charlie’s charity campaign.

Charlie’s mum, Donna, praised all those who have done so much to help her son, who is the youngest in a family of four.

You can learn more about Charlie and his condition on the Charlie’s Journey with Infantile Scoliosis Facebook page.

The family provide regular updates on Charlie’s condition on the page, and they also have a Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/25pt3jg