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Colchester toddler now has enough funds to have life-changing eye operation

PUBLISHED: 13:29 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:29 28 September 2017

Eli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Eli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Colchester family has reached its goal of £22,500 to take their toddler to California to have life-changing eye surgery.

Eli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Left to right, Michelle, Oscar, Eli and Darren Baker. Picture: GREGG BROWNEli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Left to right, Michelle, Oscar, Eli and Darren Baker. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Eli Baker, aged two, is losing his sight due to nystagmus, a condition which causes constant movement of the eyes.

Eli has regular visits to Great Ormond Street and Moorfields Eye Hospital, but treatment in the UK is limited.

Just over a year ago, Eli’s parents, Darren and Michelle Baker found a surgeon in California that specialises in treatment that stops eyes from shaking – but learnt the procedures cost £22,000.

The family has been desperately trying to raise money since and thanks to the generous donations of the public and fundraising events they have managed to raise £23,530.

Eli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Left to right, Michelle, Oscar, Eli and Darren Baker. Picture: GREGG BROWNEli Baker suffers from Waardensburg syndrome and Nystagamus which is causing him to lose his sight. Left to right, Michelle, Oscar, Eli and Darren Baker. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Michelle, 27, and Darren 33 – who also have another son, Oscar – said: “We are shocked that it has happened so quickly. It was brilliant to hit it the day before Eli went into hospital for his first-ever operation.

“It is nice that we can now relax and enjoy some family time without concentrating on fundraising and looking forward to the operation in America.”

The toddler had a minor operation at Colchester General Hospital on September 22, to stop his eyes from constantly weeping.

A donation of just over £3,500 from Shawbrook Bank in Brentwood, and an anonymous donation of £1,000 brought the family over its target.

Richard Armstrong, group head of marketing and communications at Shawbrook Bank, said: “A member of staff, Andrew Shufflebotham, who works in human resources, is a close friend of the family so he nominated Eli to our charity committee.

“We saw that Eli was shy of £3,500 and thought the longer he has to wait for the operation the worse it will be for him, so we wanted to help him reach the target as soon as possible.”

Since securing the funds the family has been in contact with the surgeon in California and are waiting for him to have an appointment available before they start to make arrangements to head to America.

Michelle thinks they will head over sometime in spring.

She said: “The operation will change all of our lives, Eli’s life will be so much easier and we look forward to finally getting to relax as a normal family.”

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