HE’S waited all his life, and now a brave little boy is able to straighten his legs for the first time.
Thanks to the generosity of thousands of supporters, six-year-old Thomas Jenkinson from Chichester was this week able to undergo ground breaking surgery to enable him to achieve his dream - to walk.
Tom’s grandmother Hilary Flynn said the family had less than two weeks to prepare for his selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery operation, which he had at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital on Saturday after a last minute cancellation.
“The hospital only phoned about ten days ago and said there had been a cancellation,” she said.
Hilary added: “We have another six month journey ahead but this is the start of something exciting.”
Tom has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which confined him to a wheelchair and left him in almost constant pain.
His family launched a campaign to raise £40,000 to send him to America for surgery which could allow him to use his legs for the first time and free him of pain.
But Great Ormond Street - which had never offered the procedure before - accepted Tom for the operation.
Tom will now spend a further three weeks in hospital before spending several months undergoing physiotherapy.
After launching our ‘Help Tom Toddle’ campaign, generous Observer readers rallied behind Tom and raised thousands of pounds towards the Jenkinson’s fundraising efforts.
Tom’s dad Rob said the six-year-old is feeling homesick and missing his twin brother and best friend, Sam.
“He misses his brothers and sisters, especially Sam - they’re best friends.
“But he’s in good spirits, though a bit tired and his back is still a bit sore.
“His legs are straighter, they are no longer crossed over and are a lot looser.
“The first thing we noticed in the recovery room were his toes, which have always been bent.
“It sounds silly but they were straight for the first time in his life.
“We want to thank Observer readers.
“We cannot thank them enough.
“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to give Tom this operation.” “Tom’s doing absolutely fine.
“He came round from the operation okay and is now off the morphine and started physiotherapy on Tuesday.
“He will be discharged in June 20 and will have intensive therapy for around six months then hopefully he’ll be walking using some form of equipment.”
Tom underwent an incredible six hours in surgery.
“It is so clever what the surgeons do, but also highly dangerous,” added Hilary.
“His preparation for the operation was as long as the procedure itself.
“Now hopefully he will be able to go back to school in September.”
Tom’s twin Sam accompanied him to the hospital.
“He was quite worried over the weekend and wanted to speak with Tom,” said Hilary.
“But he’s okay now.”
The family have spent £25,000 on the operation from the £28,723.57 raised, though their fundraising will not stop there as they now need to fund specialist physiotherapy and equipment for Tom not provided on the NHS.
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