A COMMUNITY is rallying around a little boy whose parents have been told will develop cancer at some point in his childhood.

Six-year-old Alfie Pennington has been diagnosed as having Fanconi Anaemia, a rare life-limiting genetic disorder causing bone marrow failure in children.

Sufferers are predisposed to gynaecological and head and neck cancers and his parents, from The Grove, Consett, County Durham, have been told he is likely to require treatment between the ages of ten and 15.

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But he will require a bone marrow transplant in the next year and chemotherapy before he goes through the procedure.

Alfie’s father, Wayne, 50, who is married to Crystal, 34, said the condition occurs in children from two carriers of the rare gene.

Mr Pennington, a taxi driver, said: “He is in the best place possible because it will hopefully be treatable and he is in hospital every fortnight so they will know when the cancer develops straight away.

“It definitely will happen. Unfortunately, he has inherited it, not just from me, but his mother as well. We both carry the same gene and when these genes meet it causes the problem.

“It is very hard to cope with, but we have to grin and bear it and make things as happy as possible for Alfie. Although he is only six he is starting to become aware of his situation with trips to hospital. We have told him he has poorly blood.”

Alfie has been unwell since birth and has had six operations in his short life on his stomach, groin and hips.

But it was when he started coming home with bruises on his legs earlier this year that blood tests were carried out and doctors diagnosed Fanconi Anaemia.

About £1,000 has been raised by staff and pupils at St Pius Primary School in The Grove with a non uniform day and regulars at the Horse and Groom pub nearby by going out dressed in ‘onesies’.

Joe Harrup and his wife Pam, friends of the family, have also raised about £2,000 with a fundraising night.

Over £3,000 is being handed over to Fanconi Hope at The Travellers Rest in Consett on Monday evening.

Mr Pennington said: “We hope the raising of the money will raise awareness of this condition. We want to bring it to people’s attention because it is so rare and no-one knows anything about it. The support has been overwhelming and we would like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone.”

To find out more about the condition log on to www.fanconi.org.uk/