November 23, 2021 3.10 pm This story is over 8 months old

Lincoln mum fundraising for her baby boy’s cleft lip surgery

Quicker care would help him for the rest of his life

A Lincoln mum is fundraising £20,000 for private surgery for her baby son’s cleft lip and palate to help avoid him suffering complications with speech, eating and hearing in the future.

Catherine Sykes said it has been a learning curve as she discovered more about a unilateral left cleft clip and palate, which her son Thomas was born with on July 31 this year.

The cleft lip was detected at the 20-week scan before he was born, and the palate issue was confirmed at birth.

It means that Thomas has a gap within his lip so it isn’t fully formed on one side, and now needs surgery, which his mum is trying to fundraise £20,000 towards (£10,000 per operation).

She needs to raise half by the end of November and has so far raised £7,000 in online and offline donations – donate to the fundraiser here.

The cleft lip and palate causes Thomas to dribble quite a lot and means that Catherine hasn’t been able to breastfeed him liked she’d hoped, and has to express six times a day, but thankfully it doesn’t give him many challenges in his day-to-day life.

If it is left untreated for too long it could lead to future issues with speech, eating, hearing and the growing of his teeth.

Thomas was due to have his first surgery at three months old around November/December after Catherine was told in June before his birth that the surgeon had caught up with a backlog.

However, at a pre op consultation last month, she was told that the surgery would be in January before later being informed that April is now more likely.

Thomas has a unilateral left cleft clip and palate. 

Catherine was full of praise for all the staff at a hospital in Nottingham who have cared for her son and said she cannot fault their fantastic care.

However, with the waiting list as it is, she wanted to take matters into her own hands by going private (at a hospital in London) to get Thomas the best and quickest care to help him long-term for the rest of his life.

This, however, comes at a cost, with two operations needed in the first year of Thomas’ life.

The first operation, including consultations, surgery, post op checks, and accommodation, will cost around £10,000, but prices can vary depending on the amount of time spent in hospital.

Thomas’ mum is trying to raise £20,000 for the first two operations, with a third required later when he is around nine-years-old.

She needs to ideally raise half – £10,000 – by the end of November so that Thomas can have the first surgery in December, which involves reconstructing the nose and fixing the lip, gum and palate.

So far she has raised £7,000, including from a GoFundMe page, and family and friends. She is also looking into the possibility of any military support as her husband Daniel works at RAF Waddington.

Catherine is trying to raise money towards her baby son Thomas’ surgery.

Catherine, who also has a three-year-old daughter called Olivia, told The Lincolnite: “Thomas is a really good baby. He only cries if something is wrong. He is a really smiley and happy baby who has learned to roll over already, and we have been told he’s ahead of his milestones.

“The sooner things are done the better as it gives the scar more time to heal. Without the surgeries, speech, hearing, eating and the growth of teeth can be issues in the future too, which I want to avoid.

“Ultimately, it will also help other children as by us going private others can move up the NHS list. I have nothing against the NHS as I cannot fault the cleft nurses and surgeon who have been brilliant, but it is out of their hands and we need to go private as we are just doing what any other parent, if they had the means, would.

“I just want the best for my child.

“I have been really impressed by the fundraiser. In the first three or four days it was already over £2,000.

“As great as it has been, we need to keep the total rising. I’d like to thank everyone and I really appreciated what they have been doing as in the last 18 months to two years it has been tough for everyone, so anything that anyone donates I am very grateful for.”

Baby Thomas with his three-year-old sister Olivia.

Catherine is going to a hospital in London on Wednesday, November 24 for a pre-op consultation.

If enough funds are raised for Thomas to have his first operation privately in December, he could then potentially have the second surgery before the NHS could even offer the first.

After the operation, the hospital in Nottingham would take over the medical care of Thomas, including post surgery care and speech therapy, and Catherine said they have already been very supportive during Thomas’ life.

Donate to Catherine’s fundraiser here