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Life changing op will enable toddler to walk

    By Andrea Kirk  

THE FAMILY of Emma Smyth from Long Riston are preparing for groundbreaking surgery that has now been made available on the NHS to allow her to walk unaided.

Emma, who is now three, was born over two months prematurely and at 18-months-old it was confirmed she had Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.

This meant there was damage which caused the muscles in her legs to be very tight and stiff making it painful and tiring to stand.

Now thanks to a relatively new operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) combined with intensive physiotherapy, Emma has the chance to learn to walk and stand unaided.

At the time of realising the operation was an option it wasn’t funded by the NHS, so Emma’s family set themselves the task of raising £40,000 for the operation and the intensive physiotherapy required post-operatively.

The family aimed to meet the goal by 2019 so Emma could have the surgery before she starts school, but it has, since discovered, the operation will now be available on the NHS.

Emma’s parents Louise Rayner and Jon Smyth said: “The people of Hornsea, Beverley and the surrounding villages have been so unbelievably kind sending their well wishes and donations and we are pleased to announce that Emma will be having her operation in February. We had fantastic news during summer that the NHS is now funding the operation. It is the first step in Emma’s journey to hopefully walking unaided. The money raised means Emma can continue to receive physiotherapy and specialist equipment to optimise the results from the operation. We are so grateful of all the support we have received.”

Talking about the news that the operation will now be funded for children like Emma her mum Louise added: “It was unbelievable news, so many more children will hopefully be able to benefit from this amazing procedure. It has also raised awareness around cerebral palsy and treatments available to help alleviate symptoms associated with it.”

Emma will have her operation at the Leeds General Infirmary and will need to stay in hospital for approximately four weeks before returning home and receiving intensive physiotherapy more locally.

Louise added: “We really can’t express just how grateful we are to everyone who has helped support ‘Emma’s Wish’ over the last 12 months, the response we have been given is so incredibly heartwarming.”

Maisie Rice from Hornsea had the same operation in September 2017 after a fundraising drive to raise the funds to allow her the opportunity before she was too old to experience the full benefit of the treatment.

Maisie’s mum Jane Holmes said: “We are all so pleased for Emma that her operation is planned for February, and even more so that they are now funding the operation. This is really good news for lots of children, there is an age bracket up to nine years old which may change again in time as they receive more positive feedback.

“SDR has changed Maisie’s life, she has become independent and is ready to take on secondary school this coming September. It hasn’t been a quick fix there has been a lot of commitment post-operation, but we strongly believe it has been worth all the hard work, sweat in tears. Good luck Emma all our love.

The Holderness Gazette - Serving News to the Holderness Region