Life-changing op for Derek

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LITTLE Derek Russell is today expected to undergo an operation aimed at transforming his life.

The three-year-old, one of triplets, was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy, but he has travelled to the US for a procedure called a selective dorsal rhizotomy.

The surgery, not routinely available on the National Health Service in England, is intended to improve his posture and balance.

Derek’s dream is to have the freedom to play with his brother and sister Daniel and Terri.

Cash for the operation has been raised following a charity appeal to raise £60,000 through the Echo, and which generous readers have donated more than £30,000.

The cost of the procedure itself is £28,000, but further money is needed for Derek’s treatment over the next couple of years.

His mum Michelle, 35, of Horsley Road, Barmston, Washington, said: “Derek’s really excited.

“He knows he’s going to see a doctor who will fix his legs.”

“We’ve got everything crossed that it will work out, and he’ll be able to live a normal life.”

To donate to Derek’s appeal, go to