‘Heart-broken’ parents from Hampton Court are campaigning to raise £12,000 to send their little girl to America to treat a rare chromosome disorder.

Three-year-old Penelope Vasil has been diagnosed with 8p inverted duplication and deletion syndrome causing her to suffer from weak muscles, developmental and speech delays and a learning disability.

Penelope’s parents Stella Tikkirou and George Vasil, who are engaged and live on Walton road, have so far raised £9,500 of their target to be able to take her to the NAPA centre in America for intensive therapy.

Ms Tikkirou, a full-time carer said: “It is so rare that the doctors cannot give us a prognosis so we just shower her in love and therapy and take each day as it comes.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

“It’s heart breaking really - we manage about 30 minutes a day in a standing frame but Penelope is now three years old and cannot transition from lying down to sitting up.

“She cannot crawl, cannot walk and gets tired very quickly.”

The three-year-old also suffers with structural anomalies of the brain causing her to have poor coordination, sensory difficulties and sleep disturbance and prone to conditions affecting the heart, spine and development of seizures amongst others.

“She is cognitively more advanced than physically, so can get very upset and frustrated when watching other children run around and play.

“She also cannot feed herself and because she is non-verbal she cannot tell us when she's thirsty, hungry or in pain.”

In addition, the toddler has part of her brain missing - the corpus callosum - so suffers from sensory issues and finds it so hard to sleep from the lack of natural melatonin production resulting in the possibility of waking up to 12 times at night.

Ms Tikkirou said: ”Above all this Penelope is a bright, happy, loving, sociable little girl who just wants to be able to play like her friends and talk to everyone she meets.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

“She is very stubborn so I am determined the therapy available at the NAPA centre could be all she needs to get moving and if not, at least we know we tried and given her every opportunity possible to better her quality of life.”

Penelope attends speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy once a week along with trips to Small Steps - a charity run therapy group and numerous healthcare appointments.

Ms Tikkirou added: “I just cannot hand any of these appointments over to someone else, and as her mother I want to be there for her every single step of the way, which is why I've decided to set up a crowd-funding page in the hope that together we can raise the money we need.”