A local motorcycle club has wrapped their arms around one of their own as eight-year-old Theo Thomas and his family come to terms with an extremely rare diagnosis.
Lightweight Motorcycle Club member Theo was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), an incurable autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, in December last year after experiencing a number of alarming symptoms.
His mother Christina Thomas said they were first alerted to the fact that something was not quite right when Theo was racing during a final in November.
“He pulled into the pit area after his first race in the demo class and said to me that his vision was blurry on his left side,” she said.
“I said to him that his goggles were probably dirty so I cleaned them and he went back out for his second race where he missed the chequered flag at the finish line.
“I asked him what happened and he said that he simply didn’t see it and on his third race I noticed that he was making an excessive effort to look up at the finish line each time he passed it.”
An appointment with an optometrist revealed Theo had significant visual loss and he was sent for a scan where they found he had optic neuritis and delamination of his optic nerves.
He was sent to Perth Children’s Hospital where he remained for five days before they confirmed the terrible diagnosis. Mrs Thomas said the family was heartbroken for their little boy as doctors told them he had initially lost 100 per cent vision in his right eye and 50 per cent in his left.
Theo was sent home from hospital but had to return a couple of days later due to a severe reaction to his medication. “There is no long-term prognosis for Theo as NMO is a relapsing autoimmune disease and unpredictable,” she said.
“An NMO relapse can strike at anytime and is sadly incurable.
“We have been talking a lot with Theo, educating him to know when something’s not quite right so we can get him to the hospital as soon as possible.
“He understands that when he needs to be poked or prodded that its important and to help make him better, he doesn’t complain, even when we can see the tears rolling down his cheeks.”
Recent tests have revealed Theo’s vision has improved and he can return to riding at the club, but the family know that a relapse can strike at any time.
The family have turned to crowd funding website GoFundMe to raise some much-needed funds to keep the family afloat in between hospital visits, general expenses and caring for Theo’s two siblings Kane and Jordan.
Lightweight Motorcycle Club member Kris Thomas said Theo’s diagnosis came as a shock to the entire club.
“As a family-oriented community we really feel for Theo, who is an enthusiastic young motocross rider and passionate about what he does,” she said.
“We are now absolutely thrilled that recent tests revealed enough recovery of his vision to allow him to return to motocross this season and we have no doubt he will do well in his class.”
To donate visit the GoFundMe page “Theo’s NMO fight”.