A POORLY youngster is less than two months away from having a life-changing operation – thanks to the incredible generosity of Wearsiders.
Triplet Derek Russell, of Washington, was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy, making it hard for him to walk normally.
With help from the Echo, the three-year-old’s family launched an appeal last year to raise £60,000 towards a pioneering operation in America which will help him walk and lead a more normal life.
The procedure, called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), should help improve the plucky lad’s posture and balance, allowing him to lead a more normal life like his twin brother and sister, Daniel and Terri. The total now stands at an amazing £32,600 – enough for Derek’s mum Michelle to book her and her son’s plane tickets to travel to St Louis Hospital in Missouri.
The cost of the operation is £28,000, with the rest of the funds needed for further treatment over the next couple of years as Derek hopefully continues to progress.
“We’re going to go over to America in September and should all of his pre-op appointments go well, he’ll have it done in October,” said Michelle, 35, of Horsley Road.
“He’s made good progress over the past few months, but unless he gets this operation, he might not develop into being able to walk better.
“He sees Daniel and Terri playing out and he wants to be like them.
“The way I described it is he walks as if he is drunk, with a dip and a bit of a slouch, which he’ll still have unless he gets the treatment.”
Should the operation be successful, it is expected Derek will need to have another month’s worth of treatment Stateside before returning home.
“I’m very confident that we’ll see a dramatic change in him after the operation,” added Michelle, married to Derek’s dad, also called Derek, 40. “We’ve looked at testimonials from adults who have had SDR and they say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done as it’s changed their life completely.”
The family also expressed their gratitude to the hundreds of people who have donated to the appeal.
“If we could take the time to thank each and every person who has given money, we would,” added Michelle.
“Even strangers, people we’ve never met have donated and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
“We couldn’t do any of this for Derek without them.”
Ahead of Derek’s journey across the Atlantic, his family have organised a charity ball to boost funds for his appeal.
The event takes place at The Black Bush, in Washington Village, on Friday, September 19, at 7pm.
Tickets are £25 for adults and £12.50 for children, with a three-course meal included.
For more details, email Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07816909639.
To donate toward’s Derek’s appeal, go to www.justgiving.com/Michelle-Russell8.