YOUNG Jack Pike could be taking his first steps unaided in less than a year if his next appointment at Frenchay Hospital is a success.
The three-year-old travelled to Bristol with his parents, Gary and Kylie, yesterday to meet top surgeon Dr Kristian Aquilina to discuss an operation which could change his life.
Jack, of Penhill, who suffers from spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, was told he is likely to be a suitable candidate but will need a formal assessment at the beginning of next year.
He could then have the surgery just a few months later if he is given the go-ahead.
Jack’s mother, Kylie, said: “The surgeon said he can’t say yes or no yet but he thinks he is a good candidate. We have got to pay £900 for an assessment with the surgeon and the rest of his team so they can all look at him. It will then go to a board meeting and they decide whether it is appropriate for Jack to have it done.
“The surgeon was really nice. When we met him he shook Gary’s hand and my hand, then he shook Jack’s hand.
“I laid Jack on the bed at the appointment and he turned to the doctor and said ‘you fix my legs?’. He said ‘not now, maybe next year’ and Jack said ‘you fix my legs next year’.”
The surgery, known as the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation, is a complex neurosurgical technique which targets nerves in the spine to treat spasticity in the lower limbs.
The technique used at Frenchay Hospital is the same as that developed in St Louis in the USA and takes up to seven hours in total.
Dr Kristian Aquilina is the first surgeon in the country to offer the surgery, but he will be leaving the hospital in the next few months. Two of his consultant colleagues are in training and will be taking over from him before the end of the year.
The family have raised £28,500 to pay for the £23,000 operation and physiotherapy after the surgery.
They were also told yesterday that Jack is likely to need a second operation when he gets older to correct his legs.
“I have come away with mixed feelings because we still have to wait and see. He could have just said no,” said Kylie.
Kylie is currently arranging physiotherapy for Jack ahead of the next assessment, after advice from the surgeon yesterday.
The surgery would take place after Jack turns four in January. He is due to start school in September next year.
A spokesman for Frenchay Hospital said: “The SDR operation will continue at Frenchay even though Dr Kristian Aquilina is leaving us. He is leaving the trust in the next month or so.”
Jack’s family are fundraising to pay for the physiotherapy that Jack will need as a result of the operation. Visit the Tiptoes2Footsteps page on Facebook for further information.