February 16, 2022 9.00 pm

Lincoln mum fundraising for baby boy’s second life-altering operation

It will ensure a future for Thomas’ speech, hearing and eating

A Lincoln mum is appealing for a further £6,000 in donations to help with her baby boy’s life-altering surgery, which will create a soft palate for her child, giving him a roof to his mouth.

Thomas Sykes has a unilateral left cleft lip and palate which, without treatment, could cause him speech, eating and hearing disorders and problems growing teeth later in life. It was at a 20-week scan when his cleft lip was detected and the palate issue was discovered at birth.

Catherine Sykes, Thomas’ mother, decided to go private because of the backlog of operations in the NHS, which meant that Thomas, who was born on July 31 last summer, might not have been treated until August this year. She was advised that in the time it might take for an operation to come up, he could go deaf.

The first operation was at a private London hospital on December 2. This created cosmetic improvements to baby Thomas’ mouth which now has a sealed top lip, reconstructing his nose and also creating the back of his palate.

Catherine fundraised £10,000 for the initial operation, and is grateful for donations, but now needs £6,000 to make up a total of £10,000 for a secondary, more vital, procedure – donate to the fundraiser here. The date for the second operation is potentially April.

Whilst Thomas was undergoing surgery Catherine described what she went through. She told The Lincolnite: “I felt absolutely awful. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to go to. I had to take him to hospital at 7.30am and stay overnight. He was dressed in a cute little gown, which the hospital let me keep. I bent down and gave him a kiss on the forehead.”

“It was a great outcome, I have lots of faith in the surgeon, he was brilliant at his job, but you have all these statistics which means you can’t prepare yourself until it actually happens.”

Thomas four days after his successful first operation

Catherine explained that Thomas looks: “What people would define as ‘normal’, but the second operation will be more important than the first and will affect him for the rest of his life, as it deals with the interior of Thomas’ mouth and throat. Now the outside is completed, the soft palate, or roof of his mouth, needs to be constructed.”

Catherine told us that Thomas also has two uvulas, the fleshy profusion at the back of the throat, meaning that he has at present no gag reflex. This will be treated in the second operation.

Thomas the night before his surgery and the day his nose shaper was removed

Catherine said that in the second operation there will be a harder recovery and Thomas might not be able to drink from bottles straight away.

Thomas and his mum, Catherine Sykes, could celebrate Christmas with one large operation out the way

Thomas is described as “a very happy baby who is very smiley and loves his sister a lot.”

In other news, Joaquin Phoenix, who has a microform cleft, or small cleft lip, will be filming in Lincoln, starring in Ridley Scott’s new Napoleon biopic, in the coming weeks.