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Climbing frame appeal for ‘cheeky’ Jacob, 3, who fought off rare brain infection

PUBLISHED: 11:58 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:39 23 July 2020

Jacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by family

Jacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by family

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Friends are rallying around a “cheeky” three-year-old boy who defied the odds to fight off a rare brain infection and fundraising to buy him play equipment.

Jacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by familyJacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by family

Jacob Peruzzi, from Norwich, was 19 months old when he became unwell in October 2018 and taken to hospital.

Following MRI scans, Jacob was diagnosed with an ultra-rare brain infection called acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE), of which there have been approximately 300 cases confirmed since 1995.

The toddler faced many “twists and turns” during a six-week stay in hospital including being rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

His mum Amber said: “Those days were the hardest in our lives - initially they weren’t sure whether he would survive, and being told that your normal healthy little boy would have lasting disabilities was tough to deal with - but what helped us pull through was the huge amount of support we received from our family and friends and the hope that he would carry on defying the odds and that we would get our smiley, cheeky little boy back.

Jacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by familyJacob Peruzzi fought off a rare brain infection when he was 19 months old. Picture: supplied by family

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“He’s our one in 30,000,000 and I am so proud that it makes my heart hurt. ANE has a high mortality rate so to overcome that and be doing as well as he is really is astonishing.”

Over the next 12 months, the family attended 56 appointments to meet with a wide variety of health specialists about his treatment. Due to the impacts of ANE, Jacob had to learn to sit, crawl and regain mobility all over again and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Now three, Jacob has continued working to strengthen his legs but during the pandemic has been unable to receive physiotherapy and his walking has started to worsen.

To support the family, friends Anna and David Perkins, who run the Smile Shop, a community donation shop in Bowthorpe Road, Norwich, are raising money for the next month through the sale of items to purchase climbing frames.

Amber said people’s responses have been heartwarming.

She said: “During Covid-19 he hasn’t been able to see his physio so his already unsteady walk began to worsen. She has always said that helping him go up and down stairs is a great way to help develop and strengthen leg muscles, but we live in a bungalow so are limited and with an immune system related disease its been scary to go anywhere public with him to exercise.

“He is the strongest person I know, and at a mere three years old he has already been through more in his lifetime than most people ever go through, we are completely in awe of him for what he has managed to achieve. He’s a funny, clever, cheeky little boy and doesn’t seem to let much get in the way of him having fun.”

The Smile Shop is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.


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