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pounds 3,000 to help battle against disease; Friends rally around toddler with rare lung condition.

Byline: TOM ROWLEY

BATTLING toddler William Phin has had a tough year since being diagnosed with a rare lung condition.

The two-year-old has been admitted to hospital four times and has to be hooked up to an oxygen supply day and night.

But today he had something to smile about as his mum's former workmates announced they had raised more than pounds 3,000 to help study his disease.

The cash will go to the Breathtakers charity, which helps support victims of the disease obliterative bronchiolitis.

It is so rare that the charity works with fewer than 10 sufferers in the North East, including William.

The charity also uses its funds for research because it is not yet known what causes the condition.

William's parents Fiona and Duncan, both 37, thought he had caught a cold when he became ill in December 2010.

But when he did not improve, the Whitley Bay couple took him into hospital, where doctors found his right lung and a third of his left lung damaged.

Now he breathes with an oxygen bottle during the day and sleeps with a ventilator next to his cot.

But mum Fiona said: "He's taken to it remarkably well. It restricts him because I have to be with him all the time, so he can't just run and hide like a normal child would."

Doctors cannot tell how long William might have to remain on the oxygen supply.

"I try not to think too far long-term because we don't really know what's out there for him in the future - whether there are going to be any new drugs that might get him off the oxygen," said Mrs Phin.

"It's difficult because you hope that they're going to be active and running around and maybe become a footballer. Now we just have to hope that he's well."

The diagnosis has entirely changed his parents' lives too: Mrs Phin gave up her job to care for him full-time and they have been reluctant to risk meals out and holidays.

And although she has had to leave her job at Newcastle's Orchard Information Systems, her former colleagues have rallied round.

They held a summer fete and conquered their fears to take part in a zipslide across the Tyne, raising a total of pounds 3,380 for the charity. And they are determined to continue raising funds.

"We often do fundraising but she was in our department and we thought we'd do something extra for her and push the boat out," said Linda Stansfield, the company's charity co-ordinator.

"It was a big shock to everyone. At first we heard that the little one was not very well - he'd got a virus. And then we found out about his illness and we thought it was devastating for them because they're such a lovely family."

His parents are devoted to their son and make sure he gets out and about.

They take him on the Metro to Tynemouth to walk along the beach, and he is also a big fan of the dinosaurs and sharks at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle.

In many ways he is still just like any other trying two-year-old.

"He hates going shopping," said Fiona. "He's no different in any respect as far as that's concerned."

To donate to Orchard Information Systems's Breathtakers campaign, please visit: www.justgiving.com/Linda-Stansfield

CAPTION(S):

PLUCKY William Phin has had four stays in hospital HELP AT HAND William Phin, two, of Whitley Bay, has a rare lung condition and needs constant oxygen, with mum Fiona and dad Duncan Phin. Fiona's former work colleagues have raised money for research
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2012
Words:604
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