England

NHS to fund baby Oliver's US heart operation

Oliver Cameron
Image caption Oliver's heart condition causes his pulse to race dangerously fast

The family of a baby boy who have been fundraising for him to have life-saving heart surgery in the US has been told the NHS will now fund his treatment.

Doctors in Boston have agreed to operate on Oliver Cameron, who was born with a rare heart tumour, after his first birthday in January.

Earlier, his parents warned time was running out to raise the £150,000 needed for his treatment.

The NHS said it would pay because the procedure was not available in the UK.

Lydia and Tim Cameron, from Wantage in Oxfordshire, have already raised £130,000 for the surgery to have Oliver's tumour removed.

They have not indicated what they intend to do with the funds raised.

'Exceptionally rare'

Previously doctors advised that to maximise Oliver's ability to recover his parents should ideally wait until his first birthday but, if his condition worsened, he may require the operation immediately.

A statement from NHS England said it had "agreed to fund Oliver's treatment abroad" because there was "not currently a surgical service in the UK with experience of treating this exceptionally rare condition".

Oliver's condition - cardiac fibroma - is extremely rare and the number of patients with this type of tumour in England is estimated to be in single figures.

US learning opportunity

He needs around-the-clock care to stabilise his heart rate and an implant under his skin sends readings back to specialists at Southampton General Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment since doctors in Oxford discovered the tumour.

Specialists in Southampton said removing the tumour would be "extremely high risk" because there was limited experience in treating his condition in the UK so they had decided to support his parents' bid to find treatment elsewhere.

The NHS said it was also discussing whether a UK surgeon might accompany Oliver to Boston to learn from the surgeons in the US so the innovative surgery could "potentially be offered in the UK in future".

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