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A County Durham boy who can’t walk, talk or sit without help needs a special height adjustable bed to keep him safe.

Max Austin, aged nine, lives with his mum Leeann Harker and ten-month-old brother, Flynn, in the market town of Crook, but goes to his dad’s house for respite care. With only a standard bed for him to sleep in at his mum’s house, she struggles to transfer him in and out as it isn’t compatible with a hoist and she is struggling to lift him. This means even simple everyday tasks such as dressing him prove difficult.

Born after just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Max spent the first 100 days of his life in hospital. He battled septicaemia twice and a devastating illness in his intestine which left him with just half a bowel. He was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy which affects both his arms and legs, means he has no head control and needs support with sitting. Max also has no peripheral vision and although he can say a few words, he communicates through blinking.

Leeann said: “Max loves music and sensory lights and can hold a spoon to stir so he loves to help me cook, but it’s difficult to get him in and out of bed as I can’t use a hoist with the bed he’s using at the moment because it won’t go down to the floor – he needs a bed with a hydraulic lift so the height can be adjusted.

“A special bed means Max would have a safe place to sleep and make the process of transferring him in and out of bed so much more manageable. I would be able to use a hoist if needed, although as the bed is adjustable I might not always need to use the hoist.”

Being able to adjust the height of the bed would also make meeting Max’s care needs much simpler and really improve the quality of his life.

Leeann added: “Having this bed means I wouldn’t have to lift him so much, which would be less stressful for him and me. This would make our lives much easier.”

Unable to fund the £1,146 bed Max needs herself, Leeann turned to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness for help

Leeann has pledged £90 toward the bed herself, but with applications to the charity up on last year, they are increasingly looking to ‘local heroes’ to help fund vital equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in their own counties.

If you would like to help Max, visit, read his story and click the ‘Donate Now’ button. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to help Max will be used to fund his special bed. Any surplus funding will help provide equipment for other disabled children in the county as Max is one of four families in County Durham currently working with the charity.

For full details of Newlife Foundation’s range of practical support for disabled and terminally ill children and their families, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) – or go to:

Pictured: Max Austin