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‘Doctors refuse to pay to help my son’
A mother whose son's head was pushed out of shape while he was trapped between her ribcage in pregnancy has had to buy a life-changing helmet for him - because the NHS would not.
Claire Leslie from Clayton Road, Scholemoor, said doctors at St Luke's Hospital in Bradford refused to fund the helmet her son has to wear 23 hours a day because his condition is cosmetic.
Known as Plagiocephaly, babies get it when they have been left to sleep or sit in a chair in a certain position, but Mrs Leslie says Marshall-Ian was born that way.
Desperate to help Marshall-Ian, who is now almost eight months old, the 32-year-old mother-of-eight has embarked on a fundraising mission to pay for the special helmet herself. So far she has raised almost £600, but still needs another £1,400 to pay the private Steeper Clinic in Leeds.
The clinic is helping her baby, by taking scans and altering the helmet as it reshapes his skull, which sticks out to the right at the back of his head.
“He was different, it's nothing we did wrong,” she said.
“He was breech, upright, stuck right between my ribcage. I could have died having him and so could he if I had not had a Caesearan section.”
She said Marshall-Ian’s eyes and ears are asymmetrical and his mouth is slanted and he also has a condition where his neck muscles have seized so he cannot turn it.
“His face won't really change and I don't want to start letting surgeons cut into him. His neck will improve with physio when he finally gets an appointment through, but it is the shape of his head we have to deal with now while we can,” his mother said.
“If we don't reshape it, then as he gets older he would not be able to wear glasses, he would not be able to be a fireman or a policeman, there are so many situations in life where your head needs to be a normal shape. I want him to have the same opportunities as other people’s sons.
“The NHS were just going to leave him because they said it was just to do with his looks. Why then do they pay for boob jobs and gastric bands?”
Marshall-Ian could still have a health battle on his hands despite the helmet. He still cannot sit up by himself, his left arm and leg are not as responsive as they should be and he is about to have tests for sensory-seeking autism.
A Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “This helmet is not a recommended form of treatment for this condition.”