Brave Cerebral Palsy sufferer hoping to walk to happiness in 2015

Cameron Harper.
Cameron Harper.
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CEREBRAL palsy sufferer Cameron Harper’s family are celebrating after discovering he will undergo an operation at Leeds General Infirmary this month to help him walk for the first time.

The seven-year-old from Castleford has been told he will have specialist Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery (SDR), which is set to transform his life, on January 15.

Cameron’s father Paul, 34, and mother Nicola, 39, said Cameron is keen to have the five-and-a-half-hour long operation so he can play out with his friends.

Mr Harper said: “When we told him about the operation, he looked at us and he was delighted.

“We both started crying because we could see the joy in his face, it was a lovely moment.”

Mrs Harper said: “I’m happy and excited but also apprehensive. It is going to be life changing for Cameron.

“After the operation we are looking at a year’s rehabilitation and intensive physiotherapy sessions. If it goes well, Cameron will have a better chance of being pain free and being able to walk. It is going to help him either walk with an aid or, hopefully, without one.

“It’s nice as a family to know that when he has been through so much already there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is overwhelming.”

Cameron underwent tests at Leeds General Infirmary in January 2014, which confirmed he was an ideal candidate for SDR surgery.

The Harper family was devastated when they were told last April that the £26,000 operation was no longer routinely available on the NHS.

They launched a fundraising drive and have now raised £26,000 towards the £50,000 they would have needed to cover the cost of private surgery in the US, plus rehabilitation costs.

Some of the money the family raised has been used to buy Cameron a specially adapted wheelchair. The remainder will be used to help pay for extensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy he will need following the operation.

The Harper family asked Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper for help last April after being told the operation was no longer available.

The Shadow Home Secretary wrote to the head of NHS England calling for them to look again at funding the surgery.

In July 2014, NHS England announced it would start funding trials of the specialist surgery for 120 children who suffer from cerebral palsy a year.

The surgery is taking 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.”