Big-hearted Highlanders are being urged to get behind a crowdfunding plea for a purpose-built pod so that a terminally-ill child – who is now completely blind and can only say ‘mummy’ – can remain at his family home near Inverness.
The family of Reece Mitchell, who is six-years-old and has a life expectancy of 12, are trying to raise £60,000 which will provide specialist accommodation to care for him in what would effectively be a “mini-intensive care unit” temporarily housed in their back garden.
Thanks to the generosity of the public, the online crowdfunding campaign has already raised over half of the money – and with various groups in the Highlands due to hold fundraisers in the near future, it is hoped the full figure will come in before Christmas.
Reece has CLN2 type Batten disease – which is a rare, neurodegenerative condition that causes blindness, extensive short term memory loss, early dementia, loss of physical movements, speech, and distressing seizures.
As he cannot weight bear or walk and is losing his sight, Reece is completely reliant on his mum Donna to provide all of his care needs. Sadly, there is no treatment or cure for Batten disease, and life expectancy is between six and 12-years-old.
Unfortunately the family home does not have a large enough downstairs room for a hospital bed and all of the equipment Reece will need in the near future, and the local council have ruled out an extension to the property. This means a pod in the back garden is the only viable option for the family to remain at their home of over 20 years.
At present mum Donna is having to carry Reece up the stairs to his bedroom and bathroom, underlining the need for adaptations to the current property.
Highland Council offered the family another council house elsewhere in the Highlands, but the family does not wish to be separated from a very strong family and friends support network in the North Kessock area near Inverness.
Once Reece no longer requires the pod it will be passed on to another family that may find themselves in a similar situation.
As well as the family, those supporting the crowdfunding bid include the Batten Disease Family Association, the family’s GP and constituency MSP Kate Forbes.
Mum Donna Brown said: “We would like to thank everyone for all the donations, kind words and support.
“We still have a way to go with the fundraising but with everyone’s continued support we will reach our target.
“Our hope is that Reece’s Pod will go on to help out many other families in the years to come and that will be Reece’s legacy.”
Kate Forbes MSP, who has been assisting the family since the beginning of the year, added: “Reece Mitchell is quite possibly the bravest boy I have ever met.
“Tragically though, his condition is only going to deteriorate, and to that end he’s going to spend a lot of the remainder of his life being cared for in a hospital bed.
“It might sound like an unusual approach but the pod would enable the family to stay in their home area, surrounded by friends, as well as enabling Reece to be cared for in as comfortable an environment as possible.
“If anyone feels able to contribute to the family’s crowdfunding page then I am sure that the family will be enormously grateful.
“The fact that over half of the money has come in in a month shows you how generous people are.”