Biker’s trek so friend can pay US doctor

Learner motorcyclist Ray Michael is planning a 1372-mile fundraisingjourney around Scotland. Picture: Scott Taylor
Learner motorcyclist Ray Michael is planning a 1372-mile fundraisingjourney around Scotland. Picture: Scott Taylor
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The best friend of a man suffering from a rare and debilitating condition is set to motorbike across Scotland to raise cash – to fund treatment by George Clooney’s doctor.

David Baldwin, 35, was diagnosed with a cerebrospinal fluid leak – a condition in which fluid leaks out of the spine and leaves the brain partially unsupported – after waking up with a crippling headache in June 2013.

The affliction, which leaves sufferers bed-bound, is so rare it affects only five in every 100,000 people – with no specialists in the UK.

David and his wife Cerian, 34, were left with only one hope – to raise enough cash to fly to America and seek help from Dr Wouter Schievink, a leading neurosurgeon based in LA who previously treated Hollywood A-lister Clooney when he was struck down with the same condition in 2005.

After a fundraising drive involving family, friends and even strangers, the couple are just £4500 off their target of £60,000 – with David’s childhood friend Ray Michael now stepping in to assist with the final stretch.

Ray, from Morningside, will embark on a 1372-mile motorbike journey around Scotland from Sunday in a bid to raise the remaining cash, riding from Edinburgh to the Highlands and Islands and back again on his Honda CBR125R.

And the seven-day charity drive will prove quite a challenge for the 34-year-old photographer, given he just recently passed his test and has only had his bike for a month.

He said: “This is for David, as he’s an adventurous spirit and this is exactly the kind of challenge he would have done.

“I’ve known him since we were six or seven – at first we didn’t see eye-to-eye, like typical kids, but we soon became best friends and have been unofficial brothers ever since.

“I’ll be walking like John Wayne after this. If he can go to America and get fixed, I want him to get a motorbike and we can do this challenge again, together.”

David, who lives in Strathpeffer but is originally from 
Morningside, said he has already spoken with Dr Schievink and is hoping the operation can go ahead as early as June. The couple are also set to meet with another specialist in America as a back-up.

The town planner, who doctors think developed the unusual condition after a kayaking accident, said: “I’m not feeling great at the moment. In January I was able to sit upright for much of the day, but now I’m probably only able to be upright and sitting for about an hour-and-a-half every 24 hours. Headache doesn’t do it justice – it’s a crippling pain. People describe it as the headache from hell.

“David and I have always been there for each other, supporting each other, so it’s fantastic to have that support just now.”