Family of Maesteg toddler 'seriously unwell' in Portuguese hospital desperate to get him home

A South Wales family are living their worst nightmare after their son became 'seriously unwell' on holiday in Portugal.

Theo Jones, two , from Maesteg, needed hospital treatment after falling and hitting his head. After a number of tests medical experts found that his cerebellum is being attacked by a virus which is affecting his balance and speech.

Mum Sarah said: "They think the two events are separate and that it is either coincidence that he fell or his coordination was starting to be impaired and that is why he fell.

"He wasn’t showing any signs of becoming unwell up until that point but I guess we will never know if it was a coincidence or the fall triggered some sort of immune response. The diagnosis that he is got – they are pretty sure that some sort of virus is attacking the cerebellum."

Theo's mum Sarah said: "What we are going through his nothing compared to the torture Theo has been through the last nine days." Credit: Sarah Jones

Sarah is desperate for Theo to get the care he needs back home in Wales, to enable that to happen he would need to be flown out of the country by medical plane or air ambulance. She is now battling to make that happen and is concerned by the way their case is being handled by medical insurer AXA Partners.

Theo was deemed fit to fly on Tuesday by the medical team in Portugal and Sarah cannot understand why it is taking so long for the insurer to arrange an emergency flight.

She said: "His doctors here are in support of getting him home for treatment. We have engaged with the hospital back home to ensure everything is in place – so everything has been lined up. We’ve done that with the support of friends and family.

"But we are now battling with insurers – we are consistently getting mixed messages contradicting information. We have sat down with Theo’s treatment doctor here, his neurologist and she has looked into our eyes and said ‘he is safe to travel’ obviously she cannot say for certain what affect that might have on him.

"She (Theo's neurologist) sees no reason why he cannot be transported via a medical plane and she has made that quite clear to medical insurers and yet they are still telling us that they don’t deem it necessary for him to be transported home. They essentially want to wait for an indeterminate amount of time, to see if and how he improves.

"We have been told with this condition he has got, it’s a long process, it could take weeks, it may take more. He’s going to need more tests and scans back home, we just need to get him there for that to be done so we can be supported by our family. We are out here with our five-month-old daughter as well, so it’s tough."

Sarah's eyes started to well up with tears as she spoke about the toll this is taking on the family. She said: “There has been a lot of adrenaline, when that kicks in we’re ok but then the exhaustion kicks in. But then what we are going through is nothing compared to the torture Theo has been through the last nine days.

"He’s terrified, he doesn’t know anyone, they don’t speak his language and he just needs to be home so we can get him the right treatment in the right place.”

The family say they are being distracted by their battle with insurers from what matters most their son and daughter.

The family did not want to put what they were going through on social media but felt they had no other choice. Sarah said: "We were hoping given that AXA (Partners) had accepted responsibility and confirmed that we had appropriate cover, that it was a given they would just facilitate that transfer home and not cause any unnecessary stress.

"The worse thing is that what they are doing is distracting our attention so much from Theo when that is where it should be. We also have a daughter we are trying to make sure she is ok as well."

Sarah's parents are now with the couple and she feels 'lucky' to have them close by to take over caring for their daughter. She has also paid tribute to family and friends back home, who have been 'unbelievable as well'.

But she said: "The only help we need now is to get Theo on a medical plane back to Cardiff."

She said: "It would be quite easy for us to sit back and wait for however long this is going to be but it’s not fair to Theo he has been through enough. It’s time for him to be home."

The family have contacted their local MP for Ogmore, Chris Elmore, who is helping the couple.

He said: "Sarah and Paul's situation is deeply distressing. I've been supporting the family by actively contacting AXA (Partners) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

"The situation is not being helped by the current position held by AXA (Partners) insurance and it is my hope that they will do the right thing.

"I will continue to work closely with the family to exhaust all options available to me as their Member of Parliament to get their baby back to the UK for the care he needs."

An AXA Partners spokesperson has said: "We are very sorry to hear that Mr & Mrs Jones' son has been taken ill and we sympathise with their situation.

"Our priority is to ensure that family can return to the UK at the appropriate time, and we are working with the treating facility to ensure their son receives the level of care required.

"At this time, medical professionals are monitoring his condition and we are preparing for the repatriation to the UK.

"We are in regular contact with Mrs Jones who is being supported by a dedicated team."  

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