A mum is hoping to raise £22,000 to help her nine-year-old son get life-saving brain surgery – more than 1,000 miles away in Spain.
Schoolboy Michael McNulty, was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation three years ago after an accident at school.
The neurological condition, which has no known cure, causes the lower part of Michael’s brain to push down into his spinal canal.
The effects are excruciating pain, and symptoms include severe headaches, nausea, numbness and sleep apnea – where Michael’s breathing stops while he’s sleeping.
There are four types of Chiari, and Michael was diagnosed with type one – the most common form of the condition.
The Chiari has formed a herniation Michael brain which measures 21mm.
An accident during a PE lesson in 2016, where Michael suffered a skull fracture and a broken nose, led to him having a CT scan which showed the growth on his brain.
Following a recent MRI, mum Donna McNulty, 36, decided to start fundraising in a bid to get her son the leading surgery he needs, at the Chiari Institute in Barcelona.
Donna, from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, said: “He [Michael] had one accident when he was in school in a PE lesson and had a skull fracture and a broken nose.
“They did a CT scan and identified the Chiari.
“He’s always had it but it was only until primary one that he got diagnosed.
“At that point we were able to research and he had a number of symptoms to do with the condition.
“Because it was a severe herniation, they wanted to do a full spine MRI.
“They also did a sleep study and the outcome was that he had central sleep apnea and he stops breathing around three to four times an hour.
“He’s very hard to wake throughout the night so he’ll take big gasps for air.”
Over the last 12 months, Michael’s condition has worsened and he has had to go to hospital frequently.
Michael has been offered decompression surgery in the UK, but Donna said she feels it is too high risk as the NHS has limited expertise and knowledge of Chiari.
Donna, mum-of-one, said: “At this point they could step in and carry out surgery.
“We have been offered it two or three times before but we’re trying to hold out so we don’t have to have the surgery in the UK.
“It’s such a big surgery and the success rates aren’t great.
“It can come with a lot of complications.
“We want another surgery where they operate at the base of the spine.
“It takes 45 minutes and is a lot easier on the body.
“There’s a specialist centre in Barcelona that focuses on this condition.
“We’ve sent over all of his MRI scans and they feel he is a candidate for the surgery and that it could help him.
“We’re going to wait until the results from another MRI, then we might go over in the new year for a consultation.
“We just hope the other MRI in November shows that everything is stable.”
The debilitating condition means Michael is missing a lot of school and Donna, who is currently studying a postgraduate in primary teaching, is trying to juggle her studies with looking after him.
Last month, having carried out a lot of her own research into the condition, Donna decided the safest option for her son was to go abroad for the surgery.
So far more than £3,500 has been raised towards the £22,000 needed to get Michael the much-needed operation in Barcelona.
Donna said: “It’s become more regular, exhaustion’s a big thing and he has nausea a lot.
“There are headaches and he can get sharp pains in his head.
“He also gets pins and needles and his hands can go numb.
“We were at the neurosurgeon on September 25th and by the 28th I started fundraising.
“It’s been really good.
“Everybody’s coming on board and trying to do anything they can to help.”
Michael’s fundraising page can be visited at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SurgeryforMichaelChiariMalformation