Surgery helps brave Finley Fairs take his first steps

Big steps - Finley Fairs visits the Observer.''C121281-1 Chi Finley  Photo Louise Adams
Big steps - Finley Fairs visits the Observer.''C121281-1 Chi Finley Photo Louise Adams

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy has taken his first ever unaided steps thanks to life-changing surgery.

Finley Fairs from Windmill Close, Pagham, who has diplegic cerebral palsy, underwent specialist surgery in April to loosen his muscles and increase his quality of life.

Finley Fairs visits the Observer office with his mother Lydia.''C121281-5 Chi Finley  Photo Louise Adams

Finley Fairs visits the Observer office with his mother Lydia.''C121281-5 Chi Finley Photo Louise Adams

Thanks to the overwhelming success of the Fighting for Finley campaign, launched last November, more than £27,000 was raised in the space of four-and-a-half months to allow Finley to have the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.

“It is absolutely amazing. Just having the support of people that didn’t know me or Finley, it really gives you that faith in humanity again,” said Finley’s mum, Lydia, 31.

“It has changed our perception of the world, I just feel really lucky we managed to raise the funds and we are really blown away by the support of everybody.”

The surgery was performed at Frenchay Hospital, in Bristol, on April 24.

The Fighting For Finley appeal saw numerous people coming together in a huge community fundraising effort to raise the vital money needed for Finley to undergo the operation, one that many people have travelled as far as America to receive.

Lydia added: “I just want everyone to know how much it has changed Finley’s life and how much of a massive difference it has made. We are so grateful.

“Finley knows how much the public have helped him and he wants to do a sponsored bike ride to give something back.”

The campaign marked an overwhelming show of support from the community, with many events being held, from fundraising walks, to quiz nights and grants donated from organisations and businesses to help Finley.

Thanks to the generosity of a whole host of individuals, groups and businesses from across the area, the vital funds were raised.

“Before the operation I felt really positive,” said Lydia.

“It was as though Finley has nothing to lose. If he didn’t have the operation he was certain to deteriorate and be in a wheelchair, that was hard.

“It was so overwhelming but I felt positive. It wasn’t until he had gone under with the anaesthetic is dawned on me what was actually happening.”

The additional funds raised by the campaign have allowed Finley, who goes to St Richard’s Catholic Primary School in Chichester, to have extra physiotherapy sessions, which has aided his recovery and seen his progress soar.

“You could see a transformation in him straight away. I am so proud of him,” Lydia said.

“He has managed to walk five steps without anything. His face just lit up it was just so wonderful to see him and his face was just amazing. It is all down to Fin’s hard work and commitment.

“For Finley to see how much he has come on and see all his hard work pay-off is absolutely fantastic. His independence has soared and his stability is absolutely amazing.”

How Finley’s life has been transformed

Thanks to an intensive NHS and private physiotherapy regime, hard-work and dedication, Finley is now achieving things he has never been able to do before.

Lydia has worked tirelessly with Finley to help strengthen his leg muscles.

“The operation gives you the tools to work from a clean slate, but people possibly don’t know the work involved afterwards. Finley has to be very focussed on what he wants to do,” she said.

Six months on from the surgery, Finley’s whole life has completely transformed and he is walking unaided for the first time ever.

Speaking about walking for the first time, Finley said: “I feel more free and happy. Before the operation I felt left out. Thank you, thank you and a massive thank you to everyone.”

Since the age of two, Finley has had to wear uncomfortable splints on his legs and has had to rely on a walker.

Following the surgery, Finley can now cross his legs for the first time in his life. Finley has now found himself being able to sit on the carpet at school with his friends and join in, something he was unable to do before as he needed to sit on a chair.

Lydia said: “He couldn’t sit on the floor with his friends in assembly, so he can now cross his legs and join in, that for Finley was amazing.”

Finley can now take part in certain activities and has put in a lot of effort since the operation to gain his independence.

“He literally couldn’t walk without going up on his tip toes,” said Lydia. “Splints were the bain of his life. His legs are straight now and fully flat. He can now get in and out of the bath and can now walk up the stairs, instead of crawling which was the only thing he could do before.”

With the success of the operation, Finley now has his sights set on running within 18 months and aspirations of becoming a physiotherapist in the future.

“I will always regard the operation as a miracle. It is wonderful,” said Lydia.

“Thank you to everyone,” said Finley.

Major contributors to the campaign:

- The general public

- Chichester Observer

- Spirit FM

- Homebase Chichester

- Lions Club Chichester

- Slug and Lettuce Pub

You can watch Finley’s thank you on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gRqH6L1jrQ