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HELP US WALK: Miracle man holds key to our dreams
9:20am Friday 20th April 2012 in Swindon Advertiser backs campaign to help young cerebral palsy sufferers to walk By Katie Bond, @SwindonAdver007
HE HAS been recognised as a ‘Best Doctor in America’ and news of his miracle operation to change the lives of cerebral palsy sufferers is travelling across the world.
Dr TS Park, 65, who works at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, has been hailed a miracle worker by families who have gone to the hospital to undergo the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation.
The parents of Abbey Meads six-year-old Alycia Ellis have been in contact with Dr Park and hope that he will be able to help their daughter walk provided they can raise the £50,000 needed to fund the operation and physiotherapy.
Dr Park specialises in paediatric neurosurgery and treating children with cerebral palsy using the surgical procedure which he has refined and studied more extensively than any other surgeon.
The procedure, also known as SDR, is not new having been developed in the 1980s. It involves cutting sensory nerves in the bottom of the spine to permanently relieve muscle spasticity, or rigidness, caused by cerebral palsy.
A majority of people with cerebral palsy have spasticity in their lower limbs, making walking and sitting difficult and can also cause pain, cramps and spasms.
However, in 1991, Dr Park pioneered a less-invasive technique that involved removing bone from one vertebrae to locate the spasticity-causing nerves.
Dr Park said: “I have been doing this for more than 25 years and have operated on more than 2,000 children from 43 countries. The outcomes have been very, very satisfactory.
“For those children who were able to walk with assistance, many of them can walk by themselves. Those who were in a wheelchair can walk with a walker or crutches.”
Kristian Aquilina, paediatric neurosurgeon, carries out the procedure at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
After his neurosurgical training in Bristol he completed a one-year clinical fellowship in paediatric neurosurgery and neuro-oncology at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Centre in Memphis, Tennessee.
He said: “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to perform this operation in Memphis where I was doing my paediatric neurosurgery fellowship.
“I must say the effect it has on children is quite remarkable, although there is a requirement for physiotherapy in the beginning of course, and it does go on for some time and requires a significant commitment from the family.
“It clearly does make a huge difference in the way the children walk and also they become more confident in their general well being.”
HOW TO HELP
- IF YOU would like to make a donation to any of the three families, or can help out in another way, they would love to hear from you.
- To help Alycia Ellis and her American Dream call Natasha on 07825 828265.
- To help Jack Pike and his family contact Kylie on 07833 225411.
- And to offer your support to Robbie Davies and his family call Kelly on 07597 025452, or firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can also call the Adver on 01793 501806 and we will be happy to help.
KEY QUESTIONS THE Swindon Advertiser has put a list of questions to NHS Swindon, some on behalf of the parents of cerebral palsy sufferers Alycia Ellis, Jack Pike and Robbie Davies.
The PCT has promised to answer our questions as soon as possible.
What are the exceptional circumstances that the NHS look at when considering each individual case? 2 If a child has other underlying health problems will that affect whether the NHS will fund their surgery or not?
Even though the families have been refused the operation on the NHS, why can they not make the decision to pay for it privately themselves?
What process do the applications go through?
Who looks at their applications to receive the operation?
If the cost to the NHS to care for these patients has been estimated to cost approximately £33,000 until they are 21, how can the NHS describe the operation, which costs about £24,000 as not being ‘cost efficient’?
If the operation has such a high success rate in America, why is it not available for these children?
Have any such operations been sanctioned for children in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire? If so, how many operations?
If any have been sanctioned, how did their circumstances differ from those refused so far?
Are you prepared to meet the families in Swindon featured in the Swindon Advertiser face to face to answer their questions and concerns?
Have you or any of your management team met the consultant in Bristol carrying out these operations to discuss success rates and find out about the benefits to recipients?
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