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Strood's Oakley Orange will fly to Disney World after beating rare disease

By Jenni Horn

A little boy whose battle to survive touched hearts across Medway will be going on his dream holiday after supporters raised more than £12,000.

Hands up who's off to Disney World...
Hands up who's off to Disney World...

Oakley Orange was left fighting for his life when he was struck down by an allergic reaction to medication.

The seven-year-old schoolboy developed a condition called Stevens Johnson syndrome (SJS), where the top layer of skin becomes detached from the lower layers.

It affected Oakley’s internal organs, leaving him unable to breathe on his own and battling hypothermia and a lung infection. He was given just a 65% chance of survival.

While he was in hospital, family, friends and even complete strangers rallied round to raise money for his family as they made trips from their home in Strood to the specialist hospital in Essex where he was being treated.

Since Oakley was discharged in February, fundraisers have continued to gather cash so he can travel to Disney World in Florida with his parents and brother and sisters, Maisie 13, Ellis, 12, and Tilly six.

More than £12,000 has now been collected, which means mum Lorraine can book the trip.
She said: “We are looking at going in December. The children are really excited.

“Oakley was in hospital last Christmas and none of the kids got much of a Christmas, but this will definitely make up for it.”

Oakley Orange and his family are off to Disney World in Florida
Oakley Orange and his family are off to Disney World in Florida

The holiday became reality after local businessman Graham Berber turned up on the family’s doorstep offering them the free use of his Florida villa. Graham, who runs The Escalator Company, read about Oakley in the Messenger.

Lorraine said: “With our accommodation paid for, it means we can use the money to make the holiday even more special.”

After spending 80 days in hospital, Oakley has been back at school for a few hours a week, and is also being tutored at home.

Lorraine added: “He is doing really well and getting his strength back.”

Oakley is now hoping to help other children by teaming up with ME sufferer Jessica Taylor.

Jessica, 23, has been bedridden for eight years but runs the Share a Star charity from her home in Cliffe Woods to help sick children. Together they will be offering Oakley’s Outings.

Lorraine said: “We will continue fundraising to offer children the chance to enjoy day trips after being discharged from hospital. It will give them time away from hospital and a chance to relax.”

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