Bishop's Stortford student on a £40,000 mission to send his mum to Mexico for treatment to stop her MS getting worse
When Bishop's Stortford schoolboy Harrison Compton's mum was given a devastating diagnosis he knew he had to act – but he could not have imagined the support he would receive.
Dee Compton knew something was seriously wrong when her right foot started dragging and she kept falling over. She was sent to a spinal surgeon, who earmarked her for surgery before doing one final test.
He found lesions on her brain, and when she was referred to a neurological team they diagnosed primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). It is the less common form of the disease and affects the nerves, spinal cord and brain.
Dee's immune system mistakenly attacks a healthy part of her body – in this case it damages and destroys the fatty substance that coats and protects the nerve fibres called the myelin sheath.
The diagnosis was a terrible shock for single mum Dee and Harrison, who live in Little Hadham. "I had my own business, a cleaning company. Now physically I can't go to work," she said.
It was hard for Harrison. He felt their world had been turned upside down and he was frustrated he could not help ease his mum's pain.
"She just really struggles at walking and gets really bad pains down her spine, but I can't really help," the 16-year-old Bishop's Stortford High School Year 12 student told the Indie.
But they heard of a treatment called haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). It is the only one of its kind and the only one whose aim is to halt the disease in its tracks and stop any further progression. Harrison and Dee also hope it will give her back some of the mobility she has lost.
The treatment is extremely difficult to obtain on the NHS, and after a meeting with consultants in London it was felt Dee did not meet the criteria, so they have now targeted private treatment in Mexico at a cost of £55,000.
This was where Harrison came in.
In an online GoFundMe page he set up he said: "I don’t want my mum to have to await her fate for another 6, 12, 18 months. My view is that why would we wait to worsen the disease and I’d potentially end up with my mum in even more of a permanent disability than she currently has, when it can be halted and possibly reversed."
Since launching the page on May 9 they have raised over £12,500 towards their target of £40,000. With donations flooding in from the start, Harrison also galvanised his school friends and contacts at Bishop's Stortford rugby club, of which both he and Dee are members.
With the school prom cancelled it was suggested money from ticket sales go towards Harrison's appeal and £1,720 was raised.
"It's been quite amazing to see how many people have helped," he said. "I've had a lot of spread on social media and just getting the word around."
His latest fundraising idea is breaking the record for the longest rugby match. The current mark is 31 hours and Harrison, who plays for Bishop's Stortford Colts as a second row, is setting a target of 36.
Proud Dee said: "All the fundraising is nothing to do with me – it's all Harrison."
The teenager added: "All I want is for my mum to live a more healthy life and be able to be by my side and not robbed of the mobility she has left and potentially her vision, like every mother should be entitled to do."
If you can help Harrison and Dee see uk.gofundme.com/f/mums-darian-life-changing-hsct-in-mexico.