CEREBRAL palsy sufferer Cameron Harper from Castleford has been told he has been selected for NHS trials of an operation to help him walk for the first time.
The seven-year-old has been told he will have specialist Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery (SDR) at Leeds General Infirmary, which is set to transform his life.
Consultant neurosurgeon Mr John Goodden, who works for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, called Cameron’s family to tell them the good news yesterday. (Wednesday July 23)
Cameron’s aunt Lisa Roberts said: “The whole family is over the moon, it’s absolutely amazing.
“Cameron can’t wait to have the operation. He said ‘I’m going to walk and I will be able to chase you around.’
“Obviously there is a long way to go, this is just the start. But at last we are on the road now.”
Cameron underwent tests at Leeds General Infirmary in January that confirmed he was an ideal candidate for SDR surgery.
His family was devastated when they told the £26,000 operation had stopped being routinely available on the NHS last April.
They launched a fundraising drive and raised around £14,000 towards more than £50,000 they would have needed to cover the cost of the surgery in the United States plus rehabilitation costs.
They were determined to fight for Cameron and asked Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper for help.
The Shadow Home Secretary wrote to the head of NHS England calling for them to look again at funding the surgery.
Last week, NHS England announced it would start funding trials of the specialist surgery for 120 children who suffer from cerebral palsy a year.
The surgery will take place at five hospitals trusts, including Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
A spokesman for NHS England said that children aged between three and 10 who suffer stiffness in their lower limbs, and meet the clinical criteria for treatment, would be able to access SDR as part of the initiative.
Mr John Goodden, who will be performing the surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, has successfully carried out a number of SDR operations.
Mr Goodden, who has travelled to St Louis in the United States, to study the SDR technique. said: “Cameron is a lovely child who will get a huge benefit from SDR surgery. For Cameron, SDR will mean he will eventually be able to walk better and will improve his quality of life.
“It is fantastic news that NHS England have agreed to fund this programme, and selected my team at the Leeds Children’s Hospital to deliver this service for the North of England. This means Cameron will be able to have this life-changing surgery funded by the NHS.”
“We are delighted to be working with NHS England to deliver SDR. This will help change the lives of many children in the North of England because families will have access to SDR without having to raise funds privately.
“We need to give these children every opportunity to fulfil their potential, and the freedom of walking and independent mobility is one of the most important gifts any child can have and has a huge impact on their ability to play, learn and enjoy their life more.”
“It is a tremendous accolade for the Leeds team to receive this vote of confidence. Over the past five years, the team has worked hard to develop the service to deliver SDR for children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
Chief medical officer Dr Yvette Oade, said: “Our early research and results are showing very pleasing improvements in function and quality of life as a result of SDR. We look forward to working closely with the NHS England evaluation team to further document the outcomes of SDR. This is a very positive step towards our vision to become the best in specialist care.”