YOUNG relatives of man whose life was cut short by the rare condition Ondine’s Curse have kept up a family tradition of raising funds for a special care baby unit.

Derek McDonald, whose story as a tot featured prominently in the Star during the 1980s, was 25 when he died in January 2009 from the condition that causes the sufferer to stop breathing in their sleep.

As a baby Derek was treated at Whiston Hospital’s special care unit, where he was placed on a ventilator to help him breathe through the night.

The family, from Haydock, say they will forever be indebted to medics, and for the past four years have held fundraisers in his memory.

This time Derek’s cousin Ian Bond and his two sons, 11-year-old Charlie and Oliver, six, shaved their heads to raise money for the unit.

Charlie, who had shoulder length hair, and Oliver were sponsored by their schools, Holy Cross School and St Helens Parish Church School.

Derek’s dad, also called Derek, organised the evening.

He said: “We are so grateful to the staff at Whiston Hospital for the care they gave to Derek, and thank them for everything they did for our family.

“Each year, at the time of Derek’s birthday, we honour his legacy by raising money to help other children on the unit.”

Dr Laweh Amegavie, clinical director for paediatrics said: “Each year they raise extraordinary amounts of money for the unit and we cannot thank them enough for all of their efforts.

“The donations go towards helping many other patients and their families.”