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Family launch appeal for two-year-old son's lifesaving operation

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Fri 30 Oct 2015

Family launch appeal for two-year-old son's lifesaving operation

ANXIOUS parents Raluca and Philip Vinson are in a desperate race against time to raise £150,000 to pay for a life-saving treatment for two-year-old son Alexander.

He needs the operation after he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour, a Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor, in July.

The youngster – who fell ill while on holiday in Romania visiting his mum's family – has already undergone two eight-hour surgeries and three rounds of chemotherapy and has been given around a 60 per cent chance of survival.

The family now hope to fly out to the United States where Alexander can receive proton beam therapy which will increase his chances of beating the disease. But they need to raise the money themselves after the NHS rejected their application.

This week the Wiltshire Times offered its support to Alexander and his family in their attempt to get treatment in the US, with charity Kids ‘n’ Cancer setting up a JustGiving page for people to send in donations.

Mrs Vinson, 35, of Friars Close, Dilton Marsh, said: “As well as having a rare cancer it’s classed as level four, which is the most aggressive and we had no choice but to let them do surgery at Southampton Hospital as they needed to take out as much as they could.

“They managed to get 80 per cent of the tumour out and he’s already done three out of nine chemotherapy sessions.

“We’ve been advised to get proton beam therapy as it is more direct than radiotherapies and our case was referred to the NHS as they send people out to America to get this sort of treatment.

“We were refused though because the tumour is not on their list and the prognosis was bad, but they only looked at the numbers they didn’t look at the case.

“I don’t think it’s fair but I have to accept and understand it.”

Mr Vinson, 41, works as an engineer in Bath and met Mrs Vinson in 2005 at a party in Dilton Marsh shortly after she moved to the UK from Brasov in Romania. The couple married in 2009.

They have lived in Dilton Marsh for the last two years, with Alexander born at the Royal United Hospital in Bath in 2012.

The couple are now hoping the Kids ‘n’ Cancer charity can help them in their attempts to raise the funds as soon as possible before they will spend three months in the US.

The charity, which was formed five years ago, is one of the leading organisations in the UK for supporting patients in getting proton therapy and has already donated £10,000 to the family's appeal.

Friends of the couple have already raised £1,000 and plan to hold other events to help them reach their target.

Mrs Vinson added: “The proton beam therapy is available when Alexander is three-years-old, so December is the earliest he could get the treatment, but it all depends on when we get the funding.

“It’s impossible for us to plan any fundraising events as almost every day we are going to hospital so we can’t plan anything at all. I would love to but I can’t.

“You can imagine how devastating it was and every step, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, we’ve had to make difficult decisions.

“Alexander is doing really well. In the days after he has chemotherapy he can be a bit grumpy and they said after his operations he might not be able to swallow or would struggle to walk but he’s still full of energy.

“We have to fight and I’m just thankful for all the help that we can get.

"I don’t want to be in this situation but it makes you stronger to know that everyone is supporting you.”

Mike Hyman, co-founder of Kids ‘n’ Cancer, said: “As soon as we were contacted by Philip and Raluca we immediately pledged our support to them and vowed to help them raise the funds to get Alexander to the US for proton therapy treatment.

“We will help the family throughout their entire fundraising journey and will continue this support during their time in America.

“We would urge people to get behind Alexander and his family to help him have access to this potentially life-saving treatment as soon as possible.”

An NHS England spokeman said: “We have real sympathy with any family facing these illnesses. These are really difficult decisions, which is why they are made by a panel of expert clinicians, based on evidence on which patients would benefit from PBT, and clinical consensus on whether going abroad for treatment risks a negative impact on a patient’s other health and care needs.”

To make a donation, visit or send cheques to Kids ‘n’ Cancer at Bridge Business Centre, Beresford Way, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 9FG. Cheques should include a note on the back stating it is for the ‘Alexander Appeal’.

By: Stefan Mackley   30 Oct 2015