Dundonald people are hailed for help in funding treatment for brave Marcus
The family of a boy with an "ultra rare" brain condition have praised the Dundonald community for helping them raise funds for his treatment.
Marcus Allen (12), who lives in Stockport with his parents and two younger brothers Noah (8) and Jacob (2), is one of just 130 children worldwide who suffers from AADC (Aromatic Amino Acid Decarboxylase Deficiency), a genetically inherited neurological condition.
While there is no current cure for the condition, parents Diane (41) and Sam (46) - who is originally from Belfast - are hopeful that pioneering brain surgery available in Poland would make a dramatic difference to Marcus's quality of life.
The treatment, not funded by the NHS, costs around £70,000 to access with the family raising funds to secure Marcus this vital surgery.
The family's push has extended across the Irish Sea where Marcus' grandparents, James and Kathleen Watton from Dundonald, have rallied the whole community in aid of both Marcus and the wider AADC Trust.
Praising the "lovely community" in Dundonald and the "inspiring generosity of the people of Belfast", mum Diane yesterday highlighted the thousands of pounds raised over the years, including the dedication of Marcus's grandad in collecting money through charity boxes.
"Without the support from Belfast we would not have had the funding to carry on. Raising money from the moment he has been diagnosed, his grandparents have fought his case," she said.
"All the local shops in the area, they all know about Marcus and his story and they fill up all the charity boxes for the AADC trust. We just want to give this community the recognition they deserve."
Diagnosed at six months old, the condition is a form of Parkinson's disease which significantly impacts Marcus's motor skills. He is unable to sit up or use his hands purposefully, while regularly suffering ocular seizures.
When treatment is secured for Marcus in Poland, the family will spend 17 days in the country, following the eight-hour intensive surgery. The prognosis after surgery is expected to be "life-changing" for Marcus and the Allen family.
Currently at just under £30,000, the family have a JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/hopeformarcus and are asking the public to help with any donation they can give.