6 October 1995

Please help a seriously ill child continue his treatment

SPECIALIST turf grower Tim Fell and his wife Lindsay are living the nightmare of watching their eldest child, Matthew (9), suffer the most appalling pain – pain that even morphine cannot alleviate.

Their distress is heightened by the urgent need to raise £100,000 in order that Matthew may continue his treatment at the hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is currently undergoing operations.

"Matthew was a healthy happy little boy enjoying life to full with his younger sisters Nicola and Emily until one day in January this year when he suddenly had severe head pains.

"They got worse and worse – regular spasms every 15 minutes and lasting eight or nine minutes. No one knew what was wrong and we were referred to Leeds hospital. There he was diagnosed as having trigeminal neuralgia, a condition not uncommon in adults but incredibly rare in children. We understand this is the only recorded case," explained Tim, as he prepared to fly back to his sons bedside after launching the appeal with the help of local farmers in Brigg, South Humberside.

The condition affects the optical branch of Matthews trigeminal nerve – this is responsible for all the feeling in the top part of the head.

In May, Matthew had an operation in Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, which usually has a high success rate on adults. It did not work for him and on Sept 18 he suffered unbearable spasms. It was then with the help of British doctors that the Fells tracked down an American specialist who might help.

"He had helped a girl with a similar but not the same condition and we talked to her parents who gave us the confidence to take Matthew to America where he was operated on. It was not a success and it is essential he stays for a series of operations. Unfortunately they will cost at least £100,000 which we must raise urgently.

"At present he is on a morphine drip but this cannot ease the pain. It just keeps him drowsy, yet even after a half-hour spasm of appalling pain he will look up and give us a little smile. He is an amazingly brave boy," says Tim.

Donations can be sent to the Matthew Fell Appeal, Midland Bank, Market Place, Brigg, South Humberside DN20 8LF, or direct to the family at Castlethorpe, Brigg, South Humberside BM20 9LG.