Ex-Caister bobby boosted in quest to save African boy

A former Norfolk police officer has received a massive boost in his quest to save an African boy who could die from a heart condition that is treatable in the UK.

Phil Feller, a beat bobby in Caister near Great Yarmouth for more than 20 years, runs a charity supporting blind children in the Gambia with his wife Joan and 12-year-old Modou Saidy is the son of one of their African helpers.

An appeal in the EDP to fund air fares for Modou and his father Lamin Saidy to bring them to England for an operation brought an overwhelming response from readers.

And now Mr Feller, 65, who still works in an administrative role at Yarmouth police station, has received the good news that the Chain of Hope charity has accepted Modou for his operation.

However, instead of bringing the youngster to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as had been expected, he is to have the life-saving operation at Aswan in Egypt.

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A world-leading heart doctor will carry it out free of charge, but Mr Feller has had to fund the air fares and will need extra money to cover post-operative costs.

Mr Feller said: 'Modou has been placed third on the list for his operation which means it should take place at the beginning of next year.

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'Originally it was planned to replace the mitral valve in his heart, but as he so young doctors now think it would be wiser to repair it.'

He said the cost of air fares from the Gambia to Egypt via Dakar would be more than double what they would have been to the UK.

'Thanks to the generosity of readers who raised about �5000 - �3,000 more than the original target - this has already been covered,' he said.

'The response was amazing. Donations poured in from �5 to a four-figure sum. I know some of the people are struggling to make ends meet themselves.'

Mr Feller will by flying to the Gambia before Christmas to arrange the air fares with Modou's father, a taxi driver who has supported the Feller's charity, Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia, for 15 years.

Mr Feller, of Humber Close, Caister, said the heart condition had struck down Modou only months after Lamin's eldest son Ebrama died of malaria.

Pledging to help Modou, he then contacted doctors at Great Ormond Street who put him on to the Chain of Hope charity.

Mr Feller will be flying out to Egypt with Joan to support Modou and his father during the hospital stay.

'I have told Joan that will be our Christmas this year, but it will be the best possible present to see him safely through the operation,' he said.

Mr Feller is still fund-raising for Modou's post operative care that will require a stay of at least two weeks in Egypt. Anyone able to support the appeal is asked to call the Fellers on 01493-721506 or email joanfeller@btinternet.com

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