A Huddersfield boy who suffered brain damage during birth is to undergo stem cell treatment abroad after a phenomenal fundraising appeal attracted £31,000 in just five months.

Benjamin Bowker, 10, was diagnosed with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS) - a condition so rare it only affects around 60 people in the UK.

Five months ago Benji’s parents Justin and Jana, who live in Marsh together with Benji’s younger brother Daniel, seven, set up a fundraising appeal for donations to fund stem cell treatment abroad.

Left - Right: Benjamin, with Dad Justin, Brother Daniel 6 and Mum Jana

Justin explains: “You just live with things until something changes.

“Benji has one-to-one support at Reinwood school but we were told he would have to go to special school in September which got us thinking about what we could do to give him a better quality of life.

“Stem cell treatment isn’t well researched in this country for his condition as it’s primarily used for cancer treatments but doctors say it could improve his brain function by 60%.

“There are clinics out there that can help but it’s a minefield to research them.

“We’ve not chosen a clinic yet, we are not going to make a snap decision and if there’s any gut feeling that it’s not the right place we just won’t do it.”

Despite the initial appeal sparked by the imminent change in schools, Benji’s parents have since had time to look around their nearest special school in Southgate at Almondbury and now feel it is the best place for him.

Benjamin needs stem cell treatment abroad costing £31,000

He added: “He’s a bit upset as he wants to go to Royds High School with his friends but it would be pointless him going there unless the stem cell treatment has helped.

“His reading level is closer to Year One ability and he just isn’t set up to go down an academic route.

“Southgate concentrates on life skills and we were really impressed with the staff and facilities.

“He gets frustrated at times. He feels aware of his disadvantages and even says ‘I don’t want to be myself anymore’.

Justin and Jani have been overwhelmed with the response from the fundraising appeal and smashed their £25,000 target in under five months.

Justin added: “It’s incredible. We thought it would be going over a few years and drip fed with fivers and tenners but we’ve been so well supported.

“Our online total is showing at £25,000 but we’ve actually raised £31,000 and we’ve still got a parachute jump in the summer, coincidentally on Benji’s 11th birthday.”

A large proportion of the money was raised at a fundraising event at Bertie’s in Elland when raffles prizes were auctioned off. A number of businesses and even an entrepreneur have donated generously to the funds.

To donate to the appeal go to https:// www.gofundme.com/y63bj-stem-cell-therapy-for-ben