Gallery/Video: Inspiring Facebook video of Kesgrave boy battling cystic fibrosis goes viral after half a million hits in a week
An inspirational Facebook video of a brave Kesgrave six-year-old boy taking a morning dose of nine pills to treat cystic fibrosis has gone viral worldwide – hitting half a million views in four days.
JesseJames O’Brien was praised by his proud and emotional mum Heidi for encouraging other young cystic fibrosis sufferers who are starting to refuse their medication to continue taking them.
She said: “He is so strong but it breaks my heart seeing him now because he has been so used to taking them… and now he hates them. He absolutely hates them and I struggle now. I really struggle.
“It hurts me because I am shouting at him ‘come on you have to do it – you have to do it’ just to keep him healthy and it shouldn’t be like that.”
But after she promised to post on Facebook a video of him taking a handful of nine pills before school one morning last week, the youngster obliged with a huge smile.
And now the tantrums are becoming a thing of the past – with Jesse loving his newfound fame.
The keen Ipswich Town fan said: “I am really happy so many people have watched it. I’ve always wanted to be famous!”
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Brave Jesse was just two weeks old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis; a genetic disorder that, in particular, affects the lungs and digestive system, which both become clogged with thick sticky mucus.
He was rushed to the Royal London Hospital and prescribed medication.
“His main one is Creon (used to improve food digestion),” says mum, Heidi.
“He has to take it with his food, which usually ends up with around 30 tablets a day.
“With all his other vitamins, it roughly works out that he is on 40 or 45 tablets every day.”
But he is now reaching the age where he is questioning both his condition and why he has to take so many pills.
“Generally, he has been brilliant,” beams his mum who cares for him at their family home in Newman Drive, Kesgrave.
“With cystic fibrosis, it doesn’t show. You can’t see it as such. He looks like a normal healthy child. He is full of beans. He doesn’t let it hold him back.
“I am proud of him. He is just fantastic. He is so strong but it breaks my heart seeing him now because he has been so used to taking them and doing everything like his nebuliser, but now he hates them. He absolutely hates them and I struggle now. I really struggle.
“It hurts me because I am shouting at him ‘come on you have to do it – you have to do it’ just to keep him healthy and it shouldn’t be like that.
“I knew he would one day ask (why he has to take his pills) but I didn’t think he would refuse. We were told that when he gets a bit older, around seven or eight years old, that’s when they start playing up and refusing things.
“I used to think, no, Jesse is not like that, it is not in him. And, yes, now it has just started.”
But last Wednesday morning everything changed. As Jesse, a Heath Primary School pupil, was getting ready for school, his mum made a promise: if he took a batch of nine pills, she would record a video, put it on Facebook and ask her friends to share it.
Jesse has always wanted to be on Facebook and famous, but little did they know what was in store.
Heidi said: “Jesse said ‘do you think I will get 1,000 views?’ I said ‘No, maybe a couple of hundred if you’re lucky’.
“But by about 10am it was already at 4,000 views. I was absolutely gobsmacked.
“I was crying. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to tell him when he got home from school.”
By Friday, more than 200,000 people had watched the video.
“We had loads of messages from all sorts of people – including Australia, Greece and America – wishing Jesse to get well and to keep up the fantastic work,” Heidi said.
“People have said they have shown the video to their son who needs medication and it has helped them a lot. Others are saying ‘wow, if he can take nine tablets, why can’t mine?’”
By yesterday, almost half a million people had been inspired by the footage.
Jesse, who plays as a striker for Woodbridge Peckers and supports Ipswich Town, Liverpool and Barcelona, said: “I am really happy so many people have watched it. I’ve always wanted to be famous!”
His father, Chris O’Brien, 39, a self-employed builder, said: “I forget he’s got it (cystic fibrosis) a lot of the time. All my family say he is a little fighter. They always say to me, ‘you’re lucky he is how he is, because he will fight it’.”
Jess lives at home with Brooklyn Randell, 14, Tigerlily O’Brien, five, and new four-month-old arrival Rocco O’Brien. Older brother Sonny Randell, 18, lives in Essex.
Asked to sum up Jesse, his proud parents said: “Energetic, awesome and cheeky.”
The video comes just a week after moving tributes were paid to Ipswich twins John and Marie Wright, who died within just four days of each other after long battles with cystic fibrosis.
Joshua Nelli, founder of charity the Kerry Alex Thorpe Trust, which supports Suffolk children with cystic fibrosis, described Jesse’s video as “phenomenal”.
He said: “We are living in a world where social media is such a powerful tool to help raise awareness. You often see photos and videos being shared regarding different causes but to see one featuring someone local to us is fantastic.
“We have had discussions in the past with JesseJames’ mother Heidi and look forward to granting him a special wish day following his ninth birthday!”
The trust grants wishes to children who attend the cystic fibrosis childrens’ clinic at Ipswich Hospital and are aged between nine and 16.
Heidi thanked Joshua, who was the loving fiancé of Kerry Thorpe before the Kesgrave 23-year-old sadly passed away last year.
She said: “The work Josh has done so far has been absolutely fantastic. Considering everything he has gone through, it is remarkable. I follow him on Facebook and the work they are doing is getting bigger and better.
“Jesse will be over the moon to be granted a wish.”