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Life-changing op for brave Barnoldswick boy
11:00am Monday 26th August 2013 in News
A TWO-year-old boy who is unable to walk without help was due to go into hospital today ahead of life-changing surgery to help him take his first solo steps.
Oliver Rushton, who suffers from spastic diplegia - a form of cerebral palsy - will have a six-hour operation on Thursday.
It comes after a year-long fundraising drive saw his family raise more than £25,000 to fund the operation after being told that the NHS would not provide it.
His parents, Helen and Adam, of Carr Road, Barnoldswick, said the operation was ‘just the start of the journey’ for the brave youngster.
Mrs Rushton, a midwife at Burnley General Hospital, said: “Everything’s happened so quickly. I can’t believe it. It’s exactly a year last weekend since we started the campaign.
“The support from the local area has just been so nice. You hear a lot of bad stories about people but raising this amount of money just goes to show that there are nice people out there.
“Initially, we weren’t going to fundraise because we thought there was no way we could get that amount of money, but we just had to give it a go.”
Oliver was diagnosed with his condition, which causes constant stiffness and tightness in his legs, last April.
He wears splints on his legs to help stretch his muscles and mainly gets around by crawling.
The operation, known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, will take place at Leeds General Hospital, where it has only been available for the past 18 months.
Oliver, a pupil at Brook Farm Nursery in Kelbrook, will recuperate in hospital for four weeks before he starts an 18-month rehabilitation course which could see him learn to walk.
Mrs Rushton said: “I’m feeling quite anxious but it’s about getting Oliver the best quality of life.
“We’ve got a long road ahead and this is just the start of the journey.
“There’s no cure for his condition but without the operation he’d be in a wheelchair by his teenage years.
“The messages from his brain to his legs are confused and that causes the tightness.
“In the surgery they will test the nerves and cut the ones that are sending the abnormal messages and causing the spasticity.
“It’s been very stressful to be honest and I just want it to be over.”
In April, Barnoldswick councillor Jennifer Purcell handed a letter and a photo of Oliver to Prime Minister David Cameron during a Conservative Party event at the Alma Inn, in Laneshaw Bridge, asking for the operation to be covered by the NHS but the family must still pay privately for the procedure.
Coun Purcell said: “I’m delighted that he’s having the operation this week and fingers crossed it’s a success.”
Although the family has now smashed the £25,000 fundraising target, their efforts continue in order to cover the costs of Oliver’s rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
His dad Adam, a customer services worker, is taking part in the Great North Run on September 15, and donations can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org
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