Developer Ecove and builder Parkview along with construction workers on the Australia Towers site at Sydney Olympic Park are helping to raise much-needed research funds for the HCU charity.

Homocystinuria or HCU is an often undiagnosed genetic disease where the body lacks the enzyme used to process an essential amino acid from food containing protein. When left untreated, toxic levels of homocysteine and, in some cases, methionine, build up in the body, causing serious health problems, leading to permanent intellectual disability, developmental delay, premature stroke and heart attack, psychiatric disturbances, seizures, lens dislocation of the eye, and skeletal abnormalities.

Developer Ecove and builder Parkview decided to support the HCU charity after learning that two local boys suffered from the rare condition.

Six-year-old Connor Morrison and his two-year-old brother Lincoln were eventually diagnosed with the disease last year following a long period of escalating symptoms and failed medical testing.

Although all babies are tested for HCU in the ‘heel prick’ test, current testing methods are unable to detect all cases. In the case of the Morrison brothers, the condition was not detected at birth; in fact Connor was five years old by the time he was eventually diagnosed with the disease, at which point the damage was irreparable.

Connor’s delayed diagnosis has caused learning, language and growth disabilities that he will have for life.

According to Mrs Tara Morrison, there is very little awareness or understanding of the disease, due to which families don’t get the required support. This lack of support and inadequate testing led Tara and her husband Ryan to start a charity and patient support group called HCU Network Australia.

Mrs Morrison explains that most people with the disease are unable to eat meat, dairy, bread or fish, and require to be monitored throughout.

HCU Network Australia aims to bring patients and parents together, raise awareness of the disease and diagnosis, and offer practical support to sufferers and their families. The fundraising aims to support research that will assist in developing appropriate testing, and help families with diet suggestions, recipes and practitioner support networks.

HCU Network Australia is currently taking part in the Dick Smith Foundation $1 Million to Charity promotion. The campaign involves buying a Dick Smith product from a Coles or Woolworths supermarket, and photographing it with up to ten people. By emailing the photo to [email protected] and adding HCU in the subject line, points will be awarded to the charity. If HCU is in the top ten charities at the end of December it will receive a donation from the Dick Smith Foundation.

Australia Towers developer Ecove was eager to support the campaign to help sick kids within their community. Michael Azar, Project Director from Ecove hopes that the company’s involvement will make a difference for HCU.

Following Ecove’s involvement, builders Parkview alerted their 400 workers on the Australia Towers site and photos are now flooding in before the December 31 deadline when the Dick Smith Foundation will award winners their share of the $1 million fund.