A YOUNGSTER with cerebral palsy is in line to take part in a medical trial which could help her walk unaided for the first time. Wearside people have rallied round to help four-year-old Imogen Kelly, whose illness affects the left side of her body and means she cannot walk without help.
Supporters have helped raise £28,000 to cover the cost of a private operation that isn’t available on the NHS, which would see medics snip damaged nerves in Imogen’s spine.
However, the NHS has announced it is about to carry out a trial for 120 children to have the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) operation, as part of NHS England’s innovative Commissioning through Evaluation (CtE) project.
Imogen has passed initial tests to be accepted on to the trial, and her family will find out within the next few weeks if she has been successful.
If she is accepted, the money raised so far will cover the cost of ongoing physiotherapy and travel to and from Leeds, where the treatment will take place.
Mum Sarah, 24, said: “I’ll be over the moon if we’re accepted onto the trial, because we were going to have to raise an additional £20,000 on top of what we’ve got now for physio.
“She could have the operation anytime between November and January, and this means we now have the money for physio.
“We’ve really been so well supported to raise funds.
“People don’t realise how much they have helped Imogen and opened up all the possibilities and things she will be able to do.”
Imogen, who was born prematurely, is due to start at a mainstream school next week.
Sarah, who is doing a degree in social work through the Open University, said: “Imogen is a very funny little girl, she lights up any room she enters with her big smile.
“She is determined not to let her disability hold her back and has continued to defy the odds against her and conquer milestones the doctors never thought she would – her speech is second to none, she attends a mainstream school and all gross and fine motor skills work in her upper body.”
The Peterlee family has had to move to a bungalow, which means Imogen has found a new lease of confidence ahead of starting at Dene House Primary School.
Sarah, who has been diagnosed with a back condition as a result of carrying her girl around their old home, added: “She’s really come on leaps and bounds with her independence and can get herself about.
“The other day she said I had to leave the bathroom so she could brush her teeth on her own, which I couldn’t before.”
Bag packs, entertainment nights, skydives, sponsored walks and cake sales have been among the events held by friends, families and businesses to raise the funds for the Imogen’s Wish campaign that Sarah set up.
More details about the appeal can be found via facebook.com/imogenswish.