Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Sunday, 12 April 2009 10:01 UK

Stem cell appeal reaches target

Joshua Clark
Joshua will have six weeks of treatment in China

The family of a blind toddler are set to fly to China so he can receive stem cell therapy in the hope he can get some sight.

Joshua Clark, 22 months, from Caernarfon, Gwynedd, suffers from a brain disorder known as Septo Optic Dysplasia.

Doctors in this country had said there was no treatment, but an appeal to raise £40,000 to get him to China has hit its target.

They fly out for treatment on 29 April.

His mother Joanna Clark said she was counting the days to the trip.

"I can't believe the money has been raised and in such a short period of time," said Mrs Clark.

"We fly out three weeks today, and I'm counting down the days."

This is his only chance
Joanna Clark, Joshua's mother

Joshua will receive the treatment at the Beike Biotechnology Company's Stem Cell Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre at Zhejiang Xiaoshan Hospital in the city of Hangzhou, in eastern China.

He will be in hospital for 40 days, receiving eight stem cell treatments, as well as physiotherapy and acupuncture to help with his overall development.

Then when the family returns home to Caernarfon he will spend an hour a day, for 12 months, inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber which has been bought with money from the fund.

Measuring around seven foot by three foot, the chamber has been installed at the family home.

Oxygen tent

"The idea is that the oxygen will help Josh improve further and we'll take toys and a CD player in there to entertain him," said Mrs Clark.

For the China trip Joanna and Anthony Clark will be joined by Joanna's mother Gill Doughty.

"She'll be staying in a hotel whilst me, Anthony and Josh, will be at the hospital in a family room," said Mrs Clark.

"I hope she'll be able to help us though, especially during any afternoons when we don't need to be in the hospital, so we can get out and about," she added.

The outcome of the treatment is uncertain, but Mrs Clark said she had been given hope by the story of a little girl from Northern Ireland who had gone for the treatment only able to see light.

"She can now make out shapes up to three feet away, which is amazing for her.

"The difference with us is, of course, that Joshua can't see anything at the moment, so we don't know what to expect.

"Once we'd found the treatment however I couldn't have lived with myself unless we'd done everything possible for him to try it.

"It works better in young children, and this is his only chance," she added.

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