A YOUNGSTER is getting closer to being able to stand on her own two feet after undergoing pioneering surgery paid for by donations from her fellow North Tynesiders.
Her family – mum Joanne, dad David and sister Katie set up the HelpLily2StLouis fund to raise £50,000 to fund a trip to the US so Lily could undergo a selective dorsal rhizotomy, an operation they hope will enable her to take her first steps without the use of a frame.
Hundreds of people rallied round to help Lily and smashed the family’s fundraising target figure, handing over more than £70,000.
Thanks to their generosity, Lily had the surgery in August last year after flying out on her sixth birthday, and the youngster, a pupil at Monkseaton’s Star of the Sea RC Primary School, has been making good progress ever since.
Mum Joanne said: “Lily is continuing to get stronger as the weeks go on, and, little by little, we are seeing small improvements.
“She can now stand and walk in the water, thanks to the hydrotherapy sessions that we’ve been having each week, which is clearly a sign that her balancing skills are improving.
“Before the operation, Lily’s feet were practically weightless and she’d struggle to keep them on the floor of the pool, but she’s learning how to keep them down.
“She has also just started swimming lessons and was able to do a whole width of the pool on her back, with her armbands only half-inflated, legs kicking to move her along.
“Before, she would struggle to maintain a horizontal position in the water, but again, thanks to all of the work we’ve done in hydrotherapy, her hips and core are getting stronger.
“Lily is also enjoying horse riding at the Pegasus Centre near Morpeth and is now managing to sit and ride on a horse all by herself. They think she is doing so well that she is going to take her grade one exams in horse-riding and horse care at the end of May.”
Lily is slowly getting better at using her crutches, but she still requires close supervision.
The family will be going to Perth in Scotland for two weeks so Lily can attend an intensive physiotherapy course to build up her strength.
“Thanks to the generosity of everyone who helped us with our fundraising, we have recently purchased two bits of kit that will benefit Lily,” added Joanne.
“The first is a Bambach saddle seat for her to use at school. It’s a seat shaped like a saddle and promotes a good sitting position, which will help Lily with her posture and, over time, will hopefully encourage her to sit more upright.
“The second is a new trike which will be great for Lily to get out and about, and will help to strengthen her hamstrings at the same time.”
The family, of Tenbury Crescent, Preston Grange, who have been helped in their fundraising efforts by umbrella charity Angels of the North, have sent Lily’s post-surgery video off to the children’s hospital in St Louis for medics there to review her progress and are now awaiting feedback from them.
“We are hoping that they say that Lily can ditch her ankle splints and switch to supportive inserts in her shoes,” said Joanne.
Joanne is now generously passing on to the parents of fellow cerebral palsy children the funds that are still coming in to Lily, but are no longer needed because her post-operative costs have now been fully met.