Safari teenager struck down by mystery illness

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The Independent Online

A teenager was in a critical condition in a Kenyan hospital today after being struck down by a mystery illness.

Chris Morrone, 17, was flown to the care of doctors in Nairobi after complaining of chest pains and breathing difficulties while on safari.

He was coming to the end of a trip during which he and 39 other youngsters from the Newport area of South Wales worked for the Moving Mountains charity.

Doctors have now sedated the St Julian's High School pupil while they carry out tests to identify the cause of the illness.

His parents, John and Anne-Marie, have flown over and are keeping a vigil at his bedside.

One of the trip leaders, Andy Hunt, said: "Chris is really ill and they are not sure what has caused it. He is still in a critical condition in Nairobi and his mum and dad are with him.

"There has been fantastic support from the local community in South Wales, supporting him and fund-raising. The parents of the young people that went with Chris on the trip have really rallied around Chris and his family and it moves me to tears almost every day.

"The problem is that we don't seem to know what has caused it. The only test that has come back positive is that some in the group had flu but I can't believe it is just that."

Mr Hunt, 44, a youth worker from Newport, said Chris was having a excellent time in Kenya until he fell ill during the early hours of August 9.

"Chris is a gentle giant; a lovely lad," said Mr Hunt. "He had spent two weeks running a summer camp for about 100 street children in Nairobi.

"That was what Chris was working on. He was spending time teaching them as well.

"At the same time he was doing a building project in the slum in Nairobi; helping to build a school.

"He then went on to climb Mount Kenya and was on safari in Meru. I think it was the second or third day of safari when he complained of pains in his chest and was cold and shivery."

Mr Hunt said that when Chris's condition worsened overnight, he was flown to Nairobi hospital where he has remained ever since.

He also said the medical care he was receiving in Kenya was outstanding, and the doctors there were in contact with their counterparts in the UK to try to diagnose the illness.

He added: "His parents are very distressed and they have asked for privacy while they are at their son's bedside."