22 December 1995

Matthews on the

mend – thanks, FW

NINE-YEAR-OLD Matthew Fell is on the road to recovery and home with his family after treatment in America, thanks to the generosity of farmers weekly readers and many others who responded to an appeal launched by Brigg farmers (Farmlife, Oct 6).

Matthew, son of specialist turf grower Tim Fell and his wife Lindsay, of Worlaby, South Humberside, has recently returned from a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he underwent two operations to help alleviate the terrible pain he was suffering caused by trigeminal neuralgia. His is thought to be the only recorded case of a child with this condition. His parents, who turned to specialists in America for help, needed to raise at least £100,000 to cover immediate treatment costs.

"The appeal raised £165,000 and it is incredibly heartwarming that so many people responded," says Matthews father, Tim. "Most of the money has already gone but we are holding the residue in case of emergency.

"We had an extraordinary response from farmers weekly readers. The money has gone directly on the medical costs of the treatment, and I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who helped. It has sustained us knowing Matthew has had such support."

Matthew returned home in November. After his second operation the doctors found that his trigeminal nerve had a tiny blood vessel running along the length of it, something extremely abnormal.

"They burnt this out and closed him up and were confident they had found the problem, but then it looked like this wasnt going to work," explains Tim. After 10 days however they did detect some improvement and he has been gradually improving ever since.

"The hospital felt he would do better at home with his family. He is not in the same unremitting pain but cannot sit upright. He has taken a couple of steps, but can only do this doubled up," says Tim.

It will be two or three months before the doctors know how successful the operation has been but Matthews parents are confident that he will make a full recovery eventually, encouraged by the fact that he is itching to get back to school. He has started reading again and is receiving five hours tuition a week at home.

"The great thing is that he is home again," says Tim. "We are so grateful to everyone who responded to the appeal and because it raised awareness of the condition we have had people asking for the names of specialists and have been able to direct them."

Matthew Fell is happy to be home again with his family following operations in America which have helped alleviate his terrible pain.