A TEENAGER is hoping research into his rare lung condition will help him realise his dreams of becoming a professional footballer.

Kai Feeney has an inherited illness called primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) which has overshadowed his life from his earliest days.

Children with the condition have a persistent cough from birth and face a lifetime of recurrent chest infections.

Treatment with antibiotics and daily physiotherapy to clear mucus from the lungs helps but there is no cure.

Kai, 13, from Peacehaven needs daily treatment.

His mother Aimee said: “Kai looks fine so people often don’t realise there’s anything wrong but PCD has a big impact on his life.”

Kai uses a nebuliser – a mask that fits over his face – for 20 minutes twice a day so he can benefit from a salt solution.

A second nebuliser provides antibiotics to protect him against infection.

He uses inhalers twice a day and takes antibiotics in tablet form, along with vitamin D, three times a week.

Ms Feeney said: “It’s hard work and there’s so much to remember but we’re a team. He just gets on with it and even on a bad day never, ever complains.

“The only sign that he is feeling really poorly is if he says he doesn’t want to go to football.

“Kai has a great sense of humour. He loves all sports and is very good at football.

“His illness does not bring him down now, but I worry it will affect his life as he gets older. His goal is to be a professional footballer. He has the ability, but will PCD stop him?”

Researchers led by Professor Chris O’Callaghan of University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital are investigating a possible new approach to treatment.

This involves finding a way to improve or restore the function of cilia – tiny, hair-like structures that line the surface of the nose and lungs and which do not work properly in PCD patients.

Researchers are studying cilia cells from PCD patients to identify defects and investigate the effects that two different drugs may have on them.

The study, which Miss Feeney is backing, is also supported by Horsham-based charity Action Medical Research.