A LITTLE boy with cerebral palsy will be able to take his first steps unaided in January – two years after his parents launched a fundraising campaign to get him walking. Jack Pike, four, will undergo life-changing surgery on his spine at Frenchay Hospital near Bristol on January 27, finally allowing him to run, jump and chase after his older brother Kieran, like any normal child.
Jack, of Penhill, suffers from spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which causes stiffness to his leg muscles, making it very difficult for him to walk. But not for much longer now as the Abbey Meads School pupil, who will celebrate his fifth birthday on January 3, is expected to recover full use of his legs thanks to the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation in the New Year. Although delighted with the much-awaited news, his mother Kylie admitted she was torn between feelings of relief and panic at the thought of the complex seven-hour surgery and months of recovery ahead. “We have been waiting so long to hear this and if it was not for the good people of Swindon, we would not have been able to do it,” she said. “I’m happy but I’m also nervous. I’m not sleeping at all now because I’m worried. It’s a scary feeling.
“I don’t know what to think. It’s your child and you don’t want anything to go wrong. I don’t like to see him in pain.” The operation is a complex neurosurgical technique that targets nerves in the spine to treat spasticity in the lower limbs. As the Pikes were refused NHS funding for the £24,000 surgery, they launched a campaign to secure the sum and thanks to the help of generous Swindonians have reached the £32,000 mark. Jack, who was born with an enlarged heart and has a heart murmur, had to undergo a test, known as an ECG, to make sure he would be able to cope with the surgery last summer. He will still need to receive a brain and heart scan as well as further blood tests before the operation, on January 6 and 15. He will be in hospital for a minimum of three weeks next month and then the family will use the rest of the money for rehabilitation. In the meantime, the family are attempting push their fears out of their minds as they focus on planning Jack’s first ever birthday party. The four-year-old, who has been in and out of hospital for most of his life, had so far been too poorly to celebrate his birthday and this time his parents have stopped at nothing, inviting 40 of his friends on January 5. While excited at the prospect of being able to play football at last, the little boy has little understanding of the hours of physiotherapy, deep discomfort and suffering which lie ahead. “I don’t think he realises what’s going to be done or what he will have to go through,” added Kylie. “It’s going to take a long time for him to recover, about six months. He has spent most of his life in hospital and he absolutely hates hospitals.”