A Wimbledon family is raising funds to allow their six-year-old son to receive ground-breaking sibling cord blood stem cell therapy.
Jay Shetty, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, has no use of his legs and very little movement in his hands, and was also registered blind when he was two years old.
After a two-year wait, Jay’s family have learnt he is eligible for a place on a pioneering study at Dukes University in America that could change their son’s life.
The treatment will use stem cells from his two-year-old brother Kairav’s cord blood and could help him walk, speak and even improve his sight. The odds for the required 100% match between Jay and Kairav’s cells were only 25%.
Shilpa Shetty, Jay’s mother, said: “We are over the moon. It is a big relief to know they’re a complete match.”
Shilpa, 40, and husband Raj, 38, are currently trying to raise the necessary £100,000 via JustGiving to cover the expenses of the $18,000 treatment and intensive rehabilitation needed afterwards.
The cost will cover 40 weeks a year of rehabilitation care for Medek Therapy treatment in London, his visits six times a year to the Polish rehabilitation centre and the Duke University Treatment.
The stem cell therapy could bring relief to Jay’s family who has had their life completely turned upside down by Jay’s condition.
Shilpa said: “It was really difficult at first. I’ve had lots of sleepless nights. It was quite depressing.
“It has not been easy and it’s still not easy to be honest.”
Shilpa’s pregnancy was normal but at 36 and half weeks she noticed she didn’t have enough fetal movement, forcing doctors to perform an emergency C-section.
Shilpa recalls that doctors thought Jay was fine after the birth, despite being born blue.
She added that Jay was not monitored for the first two hours and by the time he was checked, doctors realised he had a collapsed lung and wasn’t breathing on his own.
He spent three weeks in intensive care before Shilpa was told that her son may have a high chance of having cerebral palsy.
She said: “It changes your whole life, family wise, everything. I stopped working and I sort of cut off everything.
“Everybody’s view towards you changes. You don’t have time for your friends and family.”
Shilpa used to work in the gemstone industry, but is now a full-time carer for her two sons.
She explained that Jay needs care for every little thing from feeding to making him sit properly and changing his nappies.
Despite his disability, Shilpa said that he loves nothing more than going to restaurant and eating out.
Shilpa’s hope for Jay is to be as independent as possible so he can physically look after himself.
She said: “The most worrying part is if something happens to me and my husband, who’s going to look after Jay.
“We want Jay to have a more secure life.”
They are currently in the process of having a medical review and are hoping to proceed with the stem cell therapy in December or January.
Photograph provided by Phil Ripley.
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