THE parents of a one-year-old who is battling an unknown disorder that is attacking his immune system have launched an appeal to find a bone marrow donor.

When James Dowers celebrates his first birthday on February 18, it will be a day his family thought they would never see.

Aged four months, James had to be rushed to Hinchingbrooke Hospital after he began suffering spasms.

At hospital, mum Emma, 26, and dad Chris, 25, were told James was seriously ill and would need intensive medical care at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

At one point the couple, from Dunnock Way, St Ives, were warned he may not pull through.

But after six months in hospital James was allowed home just before Christmas, though he continues to suffer health problems and doctors are no closer to identifying a cause.

While his condition is under control, James' only chance of a full recovery is a bone marrow transplant.

As Emma and Chris have been told their bone marrow is not a match, all their hopes are pinned on finding a suitable candidate through medical charity the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Mr Dowers, an employee of Kimbolton-based firm Young Living, said: "I was watching TV with James, when his eye and leg began twitching. I rushed up to speak to Emma, and we decided to drive to Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

"He was struggling to breath and they put him up on a machine. They then said he needs to go to Great Almond Street. When they said that, I couldn't breath. There was something eating away inside of me. You lose a part of yourself and something changes.

"We have been told that a bone marrow transplant is his best option. My wife is Chinese and I am British, and we are appealing for donors of white and Chinese mix to come forward.

"Until they find someone his life is going to be very isolated. At the moment, we just have to try and be grateful that everyday James is pulling through."

As well as breathing problems caused by pulmonary hypertension, James regularly has to fight infections and viruses. He must take eight forms of medicine a day and his temperature constantly has to be monitored.

Visits outside are restricted and all visitors to the house must be follow strict guidelines.

Mr Dowers said: "People can only visit us by appointment at home. We have strict rules in the house - no shoes throughout the house, visitors have to wear fresh clothes and hands have to be cleaned on a regular basis.

"Everything has to be wiped down and cleaned. It is like treading on egg shells. It is particularly hard for my wife, because she is his main carer.

"James cannot use public transport at all. He cannot go out in the garden and he can't have contact with other people. If we cannot find a bone marrow match, his condition will stay the same."

INFORMATION: The Anthony Nolan Trust has 400,000 potential donor on its books. To join donors must be aged 18 to 40 and be living in the UK. To find out more go to www.anthonynolan.org.uk