'Incredible community spirit' pays for boy's medical chest brace after shock diagnosis

Great Ashby boy Teddy Dawes holding football trophies

Teddy has been diagnosed with a chest wall deformity that is affecting his breathing and causing him to feel increasingly self-conscious - Credit: Melanie Dawes

The mum of a boy in need of a medical chest brace after developing a deformity that is affecting his breathing and causing him to feel increasingly self-conscious says she will "never forget the community spirit" that means the family can afford to pay for it, as it is not available on the NHS.

Great Ashby's Melanie Dawes first noticed a lump on her 13-year-old son Teddy's chest during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year. A keen member of Stotfold Junior Football Club, he had also been getting breathless while playing football.

Teddy has now been diagnosed with pectus carinatum - a condition in which, instead of being level with the ribs, the breastbone is ‘pushed out’ so the middle of the chest is more pronounced.

"His chest is now noticeably sticking out and he is becoming increasingly conscious of his appearance," Melanie said. "We were given two options - surgery or a chest brace. While surgery would be free on the NHS, the recovery time is slow and Teddy would not be able to do sport - including football, his absolute passion - for at least 12 months.

"The brace, on the other hand , is worn for up to 23 hours per day for up to 18 months and applies pressure to the deformity, forcing it to grow back inwards and correctly. The consultant has confirmed it can be removed for eating and for one hour's training or match. We, as a family, felt this is the best option for Teddy’s mental wellbeing. We don’t believe he would cope with the surgery, slow recovery time and not being able to play with his friends."

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The brace is not available on the NHS because the condition is considered cosmetic. "It is not just cosmetic," Melanie said. "Young men are taking their own lives over this deformity and looking different to peers. We do not want our son to become a statistic, or for his mental wellbeing to be affected."

Unable to afford the £4,863 for the brace and monthly adjustments, the community has rallied round the family and raised the money in just three days.

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Melanie said: "Thank you to everybody who has donated or shared [our story]. It is incredible. We are grateful to each and every one of you. We will never forget the community spirit and help you have all shown us."

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