British couple in Bangkok raise money for son born with rare illness

A British couple living in Bangkok is raising £70,000 (2.85 million baht) to support the care of their five-month-old baby boy Finley who was born with an extremely rare illness.

Finley Phillips was born with a rare chromosomal disorder that affects just 10 people worldwide. In the womb, Finley developed a duplication of chromosome 14 which has resulted in craniosynostosis (early skull fusion), two holes in his heart, severe hearing loss, club feet and hands, and an inability to gain weight.

The diagnosis means Finley will have an ongoing lifelong disorder, but “no one can predict exactly what the future holds,” said Finley’s mother.

Yesterday, medical staff in Bangkok gave Nick and Abby Phillips, from England, the greenlight to transfer baby Finley to a hospital in the UK for specialist treatment.

The couple said they are “thrilled” with the news and will fly home on Friday and head straight to Ipswich Hospital.

So far, Nick and Abby have raised £43,000 which pays for the family’s transfer to England. Once Finley is in England, his treatment will thankfully be covered by the National Health Service (NHS).

However, the couple is facing staggering medical bills for months’ worth of specialist care in Thailand.

“The money raised has managed to secure our flights, we still have hospital bills here to pay, we don’t yet know the sum of these,” said Abby.

On a fundraising page, Finley’s mother explained…

“Whilst my teaching position provides good healthcare insurance unbeknown to us, until after our son was born, no insurance companies in Thailand cover birth defects and now that we are fully aware of his condition, we are unable to secure a policy, leaving us facing a future wracked with uncertainty and bills we did not foresee, and cannot meet.”

Baby Finley faces constant challenges…

“Each day presents numerous logistical difficulties in caring for our son, which we are desperate to get right so that Finley receives the best possible care and love he so deserves. In addition, his needs necessitate constant medical intervention – scans, procedures and operations that culminate in staggering medical bills. We live and work in Thailand where healthcare is not free.”

“Currently, Finley needs to have a gastric tube fitted urgently as his ability to feed and suppress vomiting is negligible. It is vital that he gains weight so that he can withstand the first of many operations on his skull to relieve the pressure forming on his brain.”

Finley spent four weeks in neonatal intensive care after his birth, which amounted to £13,000 in bills alone.

Abby and Nick explained that they take turns caring for Finley 24 hours a day and administering his medication.

Caring for Finley is a full-time job which means the couple can no longer work and have so far used their savings to cover medical bills.

“We are beyond relieved, extremely anxious about the flight but mainly just so glad to be getting Finley home and to where he needs to be.”

“If you are able to donate, whatever the amount, please know that we appreciate your support and thank you, sincerely; your kindness will never, ever be forgotten.”

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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