1. ITV Report

Lifesaving cup donated for Devon autistic boy

This cup was donated by a parent for Ben Photo:

A father from North Devon says he's been overwhelmed with help in his quest to trace a cup for his autistic son. Ben Carter refuses to drink out of anything other than his Tommee Tippee cup, which is now falling apart. His dad says the hunt for a replacement could be the difference between life and death.

Ben's father is overwhelmed by the response to his plea Credit: ITV News

Since the age of two Ben Carter has drunk only from this style and colour of cup - only at home and only when he`s hungry too. No other will do. Concerned that his cups were wearing out his father began an internet search three years ago. It's no exaggeration he says: Ben's life could depend on it.

"If he's not going to drink there's not a lot you can do. It's that challenging. He would rather ... we don't know how far he would take it. He's been hospitalised because he hasn't had fluids. His longest was 5 days by choice because he had tonsillitis. ben only drinks when he eats so because he had a sore throat he laid in bed and slept 24/7 for 5 days. We called doctors every day ad in the end they said we want him in hospital. They were preparing lines to put in him and knock him out completely."

– Marc Carter, Ben's father

After failing to find an exact match Mark Carter published his plight on social media. Hiss heart felt article has been passed on more than 19,000 times reaching prompting replies form all over the world.

"I just thought I'm going to use Twitter. I'd never really done it, I think I had 30 followers. I tweeted a bit here and there and I thought it would be great if I could get a couple of hundred retweets and you never know someone out there might go 'ooh got one' and it went absolutely crazy. It's insane."

– Marc Carter, Ben's father

The cup was made 12 years-ago by Tommy Tippee - and the company didn't have of any from that time but it's now offered to send on any potential matches sent to them free of charge.

"Amazingly over 15 years people have kept some of these cups and just today the first cup has come in to us via one of our lovely parents so that arrived this morning and that will be being inspected and checked and cleaned and washed and ready to be sent to Ben early next week."

– Sarah Scott, Tommee Tippee

"It's been mentioned in papers and sites and things in America, in Canada, in Nigeria, in Russia, in China. I can't keep up. I just wanted a little blue cup for my son, this is crazy."

– Marc Carter, Ben's father

As Marc sends off Ben to school he's now looking forward to the first of many promised parcels arriving soon; second hand plastic cups that could be a lifesaver.