A PROUD schoolboy has battled back from months of hospital treatment to lead his beloved Newcastle United onto the pitch.
Nine-year-old Dylan Marshall’s dreams came true on Sunday when he was mascot for the club’s match against Manchester City at St James’ Park.
The Lynemouth youngster is the only person in the North East to have the rare genetic disorder Larsens Syndrome, which affects the development of bones throughout the body.
Since the age of 14-months he has undergone treatment to have bones removed and replaced. At the age of three he had a metal rod placed in the front of his neck, but as the bone at the rear grew normally it caused compression of the spinal cord and in October 2012 Dylan had to undergo another operation. It left him with no movement from the neck down and he had to spend seven months in hospital.
However, the determined Ellington First School pupil has made amazing progress and at the weekend he was able to walk onto the Newcastle pitch with a frame.
Club sponsor wonga.com also arranged a tour of the dressing rooms, a strip and the chance to meet his footballing heroes.
Mum Victoria said: “It was out of this world, absolutely amazing. It has been his dream for so long to be a mascot. He can never play contact sport, but he plays football on the computer and he goes to all of Newcastle’s home games. He just loves it.
“It was quite emotional, with everything he has been through. This time last year he couldn’t even sit up and he had to learn to do everything again.”
Larsens Syndrome occurs in about one in 100,000 newborns and is so rare that Dylan has had to travel to Great Ormand Street Hospital in London for treatment.
But he doesn’t let his condition stop him and takes part in Newcastle United Foundation’s Match Fit Programme in his wheelchair at school.
Mrs Marshall said: “Dylan never complains about anything. When he came home after his last operation he said ‘the pain in my neck has gone’, but he always said he didn’t have pain when we had asked him.
“He will do whatever he can to the best of his ability. Nothing stops him and if he chooses to Dylan can do anything.”