THE father of a boy bullied because his ears stick out says he has been left “speechless” by the generosity of a plastic surgeon who has offered to carry out corrective surgery free of charge.
Craig Watson, 33, from Stockton, was desperate to help his son, Ashley, seven, after the local NHS withdrew funding to pin his ears back.
The family were initially told by their GP that the pinning back could probably be done on the NHS, but this was refused on cost grounds.
After going on BBC Radio Tees to talk about his son’s plight the programme was contacted by Yarm-based plastic surgeon Paul Baguley, who offered to perform the surgery Ashley needed, free of charge, in the private sector.
Ashley had been taunted at school because he was born without cartilage at the top of his ears, which meant that they stick out more than usual.
His father said Ashley got so upset that he started to wear a hood all of the time.
After being told of the surgeon’s offer Mr Watson said: “I still can’t believe it. I was speechless when they told me that Mr Baguley had made this offer.”
Determined to help his son, Mr Watson and his wife, Nicola, a 34-year-old nursing student, had started to raise money to pay for the operation.
Mr Watson, who works at the Asda depot in Teesport, said: “People at work have been brilliant and we have already raised about £1,300 because we thought we would have to pay.”
The couple are now considering making a donation to a local children’s hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Define Cosmetic Surgery clinic in Yarm, where Mr Baguley is based, said the full cost of a paediatric ear pinning operation was around £3,200.
In Ashley’s case the procedure is expected to take place at the Nuffield Hospital in York.
A spokeswoman for NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Patient confidentiality prevents us from commenting on individual cases.
“When CCGs were established on April 1, 2013, replacing primary care trusts, all of the 12 CCGs in the North-East adopted the same policy for funding cosmetic procedures, which included pinnaplasty and others.
“This was to ensure a consistent and equitable approach for patients across the North-East region.
“Patients can apply to their local CCG via their GP for an individual funding request, which will be considered on a case-to-case basis.”