A brave nine-year-old is standing tall after a second life-changing operation to help him to walk unaided.
Joseph Hill, who has cerebral palsy, has travelled all the way to St Louis, in America, for keyhole surgery to help loosen muscles in his legs in a bid to help him stand up straight.
The successful operation followed an earlier procedure at Leeds General Infirmary in October 2013 – both were paid for through the nationwide Stepping Forward for Joseph £40,000 fundraising campaign.
Joseph’s family had been forced to raise the cash for the initial operation themselves after NHS rules changed and they faced paying for the surgery which had previously been done for free.
After initially making good progress following surgery in Leeds, muscular issues meant Joseph needed more than just physiotherapy, but long waiting lists in the UK meant the family opted to travel abroad for surgery in November.
His mum Angela, from Wakefield, said: “It’s absolutely amazing how well he has done since St Louis. He’s just a different boy, he’s got a whole new lease of life.”
“He can do it now, he doesn’t have the restraints of a walking frame. He gets his crutches and he’s off.”
She said that Joseph’s quick progress has meant he now walks unaided around the house and can stand up from being seated without needing a frame for support.
Within days of the US surgery, Joseph was up on his feet. He is continuing an intensive physiotherapy programme, has started horse riding to strengthen his core and has even joined a football team.
The majority of the funds raised through the Stepping Forward for Joseph appeal have been spent on his two operations as well as ongoing physio sessions to prevent the youngster’s muscles seizing up, meaning the appeal for support is likely to continue in 2015.
Despite having had to use a walking frame less than two years ago, Joseph is keen to earn any fresh support by taking part in the Junior Great North Run in September.
His mum added: “He’s got more determination and enthusiasm to get up now.”
For information or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/steppingforwardforjoseph.