Gants Hill synagogue appeal to raise £10k for an eyegaze computer to change woman’s life

Devorah Sufrin, from Chabad Lubavitch, the synagogue in Gants Hill, told the Freedman family about t

Devorah Sufrin, from Chabad Lubavitch, the synagogue in Gants Hill, told the Freedman family about the new technology - Credit: Archant

The family of a woman whose degenerative condition means she can only move her eyes are fundraising to buy technology which would allow her to regain her independence.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer Sue Freedman, 45, can no longer carry out everyday activities which most of us take for granted, spending her day in the same chair in her home in Barkingside, unable to change the TV channel, pick up a book or send a text.

But assistive technology and the use of a digital tablet called a Smartbox would enable Sue to control the front door to allow visitors in, the radio, the TV and her mobile phone only by using an eyegaze computer.

Her husband, Laurence Freedman, 61, is a black cab taxi driver and has to leave her during the day, while their three children, aged 22, 19 and 15, work and go to school.

Laurence said: “This could change her life.

“When I leave her to go to work in the morning, she is isolated in this chair – she can’t contact anybody and nobody can contact her.”

The mother of three was diagnosed with MS 15 years ago but her condition has deteriorated over the past eight years and most of her body has become paralysed.

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Devorah Sufrin, who has known Sue for many years through the Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Gants Hill, mentioned the new technology to the family after learning about it.

And after an assessment interview with the company, Sue was deemed a candidate for a Smartbox. Now her family and friends are raising £9,000 to pay for it.

Devorah said: “That look on Sue’s face when she realised that she would be able to get back control of some of the things that she given up.

“This is all very well to have sympathy, but this is something which can help them as a family.

“She is a wonderful woman with amazing courage and dignity.”

MS affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Each nerve fibre in the brain and spinal cord is surrounded by a layer of protein called myelin, which protects the nerve and helps electrical signals travel from the brain.

In MS, the myelin becomes damaged.

The appeal was launched three weeks ago and half of the money has already been raised.

The installation of a Smartbox costs nearly £9,000 and needs regular maintenance.

You can help Sue by donating on