The Mackem facing a bigger challenge than football
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Four-year-old Sunderland fan George Bertie Johnson has had over 75 operations to try and treat a unique, undiagnosed medical condition that has baffled specialists across the UK. He’s now turning to social media in an attempt to uncover further answers, sponsorship – and maybe a solution to his life-threatening condition.
In short, the young Mackem requires urgent medical attention, and needs to head across to the United States where experts hope they might have the answer.
George has a very rare motility condition which means that he can't eat or drink; he’s currently fed directly through his heart. He relies on intravenous fluids to help him grow, because his digestive system – from his ability to swallow right through to his bowel – don’t function; that makes oral feeding is impossible.
As a result, the youngster has spent most of his young life in hospital and suffers from constant pain every day. But the footie fanatic has a grin on his face, and it’s not just because Gus Poyet’s magic has seen the north-east side climb away from immediate relegation danger in the Premier League.
George has been treated at Alder Hey (Liverpool), Arrowe Park (Wirral) and predominantly Great Ormond Street (London) hospitals. Indeed, specialists at GOSH have been working tirelessly to find a solution, albeit without success. The method of pumping nutrition around his body is toxic for George’s liver and will eventually cause it major damage, as well as placing an unhealthy strain on a number of other organs. George’s chance of a better quality of life now lies with a team of consultants in America.
A consultant in a renowned Ohio hospital provides a beacon of hope for George and his family. What’s needed now is the funds to get George over to the States for further tests.
So George’s parents have set up Team George, a charity created to help further George’s diagnosis and, they hope, to one day find a solution. The organisation will also work to raise awareness, information and support for other children suffering from motility conditions like George’s.
Sunderland-mad George has found support within his favourite team. The club have helped raise funds to help George get the treatment he needs – he was their mascot for the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg victory against Manchester United, and he loved taking the main stage at Old Trafford.
Sunderland also hosted a gala dinner with proceeds going to the Team George cause, and the club’s commercial director Gary Hutchinson has talked about the impact the brave little boy has had on them: “George has touched the hearts of everyone here at the club and it’s fantastic to see so much support for what is a very worthwhile cause.”
The club has managed to raise thousands towards George’s journey to treatment in America, but with medical costs so high in the United States more funding is still needed – and all help is welcome. Charity matches have been set up to help raise funds to help George get to America and to provide for his diagnosis and treatment – and you could do the same.
For George, a simple infection could result in yet another long hospital stay. Even just taking a bath is a hugely painful exercise – ultimately, he just longs to play footy like other children his age.
To help George on his way to recovery please support Team George. Donate whatever you can by going to http://www.gofundme.com/teamgeorge.