THE parents of a toddler born with a rare form of birthmark which covers much of his body are campaigning for research into the condition.
Nineteen-month-old Ethan Wheller, from Huntington, was born with congenital melanocytic naevi (CMN) – a kind of birthmark – which covers 35 per cent of his body.
There are fears the mark, which covers Ethan’s face, chest, neck, back, arm and ear could cause complications as it does appear to be getting larger and could potentially cause neurological problems or become cancerous in the future.
Now his parents Tom Wheller and Abbi Thompson, both 25, have launched a fundraising effort to make people aware of CMN and to help support the charity Caring Matters Now, which is conducting research into the condition.
Tom, who works as a trade supervisor, said: “It can cause a lot of problems in his future. Going to school is going to be difficult for him because he is different to everyone else.
“We’re raising money for Caring Matters Now because it’s vital other kids born with this kind of condition can be treated with a drug to stop it growing. You can’t stop it happening but when they are born they may be able to stop it growing with a drug in the future.”
When Ethan was born he was referred from York Hospital to Leeds and then on to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which Ethan visited five times last year.
Ethan also has some 30 other smaller birth marks.
His parents said Caring Matters Now helped them feel they were not alone and gave them hope for treatment for Ethan in the future.
Abbi said: “When he was first born we were really shocked because we didn’t know about it.
“But since we went to the support day, they were so brilliant they inspired us to raise money and awareness. As well as that went want to make Ethan’s life easier by helping people to understand more about it.”
Researchers working on behalf of the charity have found the gene which causes the condition and are working on medication which could stop further spread of it after babies are born. They are also looking into ways of lightening the mark, which Ethan’s parents hope could help him in the future.
A charity golf day is due to be held at Forest Park Golf Club in Stockton on the Forest on April 13.
If you can help donate raffle prizes, for the event, phone Tom on 07902631122 or Abbi on 07891081774.
To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/tom-wheller