Happy news about animals
A boy who suffers from a rare illness which stunts his growth has shot up two inches – with the help of hamsters.
A pioneering treatment using the rodent’s enzymes has given Oliver Moody his life back, according to his parents.
As well as the growth spurt, the 12-year- old’s organs are being cleansed of the deadly toxins they once held.
And in a rather pleasant sideeffect, the injection of a little hamster has made his hair much softer.
“It is absolutely amazing,” said his father Paul. “Who would have thought a little creature like a hamster could help to give my son his life back. It’s every parent’s dream.”
At the age of four, Oliver was diagnosed with the genetic disorder mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) VI.
This means he is missing a vital enzyme which breaks down harmful chemicals in the body.
Without it, the toxins collect in vital organs, potentially starving them of oxygen.
Sufferers usually have severe problems with their bones, too, and most stop growing before their teens.
Until now, there was no way to treat the condition. But this method, developed by an American company, appears to relieve the symptoms.
The enzyme that Oliver lacks is extracted from Chinese hamsters, genetically modified and encased in vials. The solution is given to the patient through a drip.
At an estimated £300,000 a year, it does not come cheap, and has to be approved by the Government, rather than an NHS trust. Only seven others are using it in the UK.
But Mr Moody, 48, and his wife Dawn, 44, from Leeds, were determined to give their son a chance.
Before beginning the treatment last May, Oliver was around 3ft 10in tall, and had not grown in two years.
Mr Moody, a company director, said: “The increase in his height was the best thing for Oliver because he really wanted to be a bit bigger.
“But we also know that his organs are improving, too. Before, his liver and kidneys and the area around them were swollen and his tummy had a sort of bulbous look.
“Soon after though, we could tell he was getting better because his tummy went flat. We can see he is getting better – there are little things like his hair was really coarse but then a few weeks after he started treatment it started getting softer.
“We are over the moon, absolutely delighted.’
Oliver, who has a brother Elliot, 15, and sister Emily, eight, receives the hamster extract once a week at home.
“A nurse comes and administers the treatment. It takes four hours so he plays on his computer or watches TV.
“He’s delighted because he gets an afternoon off school. But for us it is just amazing.
“Nothing could compare to getting this treatment for our son – it’s better than winning the lottery.”