A little boy from Kempston is at the centre of a fund raising drive to find the money needed to save his sight.
Nathan Francis, aged nine, who lives in Hastings Road, suffers from five brain tumours which he has been treated for since diagnosis when he was 18-months-old.
Thanks to extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment four of Nathan’s tumours are inactive, but a fifth, which is wrapped around his optic nerve could make him go blind.
His father Ronnie, who cares for Nathan full-time, said: “His behaviour changed and that is one of the signs. He has an MRI scan which showed that he had a new tumour and it has been growing around the optic nerve.
“They looked to see if it was possible to remove it but they said that because it is so big it would damage the optic nerve and his sight.”
And Ronnie, who cares for Nathan with his wife Lydia, who works at an education welfare officer at Bedford Borough Council, said that doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London have told them that the US tumour-shrinking drug Avastin, which is not freely available in the UK would be the safest treatment option.
The family are currently waiting to find out if Bedfordshire Primary Care Trust will fund the treatment, but have decided to start raising the £20,000 needed themselves.
He said: “Nathan would be the first child in the UK to have Avastin for this particular tumour.
“Children with his type of tumour have been treated successfully in the US. They can bring it here but the problem is the cost.”
He added: “As a three-year-old Nathan hit puberty because of the effects of the chemotherapy, his voice started to break and he started to grow facial hair. He has to have injections every two months.”
Nathan is now on a course of interim chemotherapy treatment until money can be raised for the Avastin.
And the fundraising has already begun, Lydia has organised events at Bedford Borough Council and has so far raised over £1,000. And on Saturday local gospel musicians will hold a concert at The Harpur Suite in Bedford Corn Exchange in support of the cause.
Ronnie himself, who is a musician by trade will play keyboards at the free entry event which starts at 8pm.
And on Saturday, November 24 Bedford Community Gospel Choir, with guests Christine Reid, Carren Richards and Jadon Russell will perform at Bedford School from 7pm to raise money for Nathan’s treatment.
Ronnie said: “The organisers have got people coming from as far away as Bradford, across London, Birmingham and Hitchin, they are all people that I haver played for over the years. The event has been organised by Yvonne and Emma for the Incognito Gospel Choir and when they heard what it was for the Harpur Suite said they would donate tickets to an upcoming show to be raffled off on the night.”
He added: “Nathan goes to Ridgeway School, but since he’s started this interim treatment he is only able to do half days, by the time I get him back he just goes to sleep.”
To find out more about Nathan and his treatment, and to donate to his Avastin fund visit www.justgiving.com/NathanFrancis1