LONDON (Reuters) - A British teenage cancer sufferer who raised more than 3 million pounds for charity after his fund-raising campaign went viral on social media has died, his family said on Wednesday.
Stephen Sutton, 19, died in his sleep on Wednesday morning, his mother Jane said on Facebook.
Sutton, who was first diagnosed with bowel cancer four years ago, raised the money for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity and won the support of numerous celebrities and politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron.
“My heart is bursting with pride but breaking with pain for my courageous, selfless, inspirational son who passed away peacefully in his sleep,” Jane Sutton wrote to her son’s 900,000 followers on Facebook.
Sutton originally set a 10,000-pound fund-raising target after being told his cancer was terminal in 2012. However he received over 100,000 public donations and raised his target to 1 million pounds after a final “goodbye” message he posted on Facebook went viral.
“It’s a final thumbs up from me,” the teenager wrote alongside what he thought was a last picture of himself in a hospital bed.
“I’ve done well to blag things as well as I have up till now, but unfortunately I think this is just one hurdle too far.”
News of Sutton’s plight quickly spread and celebrities including British actor and comedian Stephen Fry and music mogul Simon Cowell gave their support.
Cameron wrote on Twitter: “I am deeply saddened to hear that Stephen Sutton has died. His spirit, bravery and fundraising for cancer research were all an inspiration.”
Sutton was discharged from hospital at the beginning of May after his health improved but his family said on Tuesday that his condition had deteriorated and he was struggling to breathe.
Speaking about the money he had raised, he once told the BBC: “I don’t actually do what I do for recognition. I love nice comments but I do what I do because I find the best way to help myself is to help others.
“I’m proud of the feeling I get just by raising all this money,” he added.
Reporting by Jack Stubbs; editing by Stephen Addison