A LITTLE girl’s hopes of being able to walk unaided have been given a huge boost after she had a life-changing operation as part of a pioneering NHS trial.
Four-year-old Imogen Kelly was one of just 120 youngsters aged three to nine who were chosen from across the country to have the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) operation.
Imogen has cerebral palsy and it is hoped the op, which involves snipping damaged nerves in the spine, will help her walk without needing support.
Now, just weeks since the op, the youngster is beginning to take steps with the support of crutches and has wowed her family and doctors with her strong progress.
Mum Sarah Rogers said the experience has been life- changing for Imogen and is like a dream come true.
It has already seen Imogen being able to wear normal shoes for the first time and come off painkillers and muscle-relaxing drugs.
A cash pot of £30,000, collected by the community for the Imogen’s Wish appeal, to fund the surgery privately, is being used to cover the cost of intense physiotherapy, giving her the best chance to thrive.
The youngster was born prematurely and the cerebral palsy affects the left side of her body.
She could previously take steps with the help of a walker, but her family wanted to give her every opportunity to live a full life.
Sarah, 24, said: “She’s a little star. The difference in her is amazing, just after a matter weeks.
“At the minute she describes her legs as being new and like jelly but is working hard at physio to build up the muscle to prepare her for independent walking.
“She can now also wear shoes that fit her feet, instantly becoming flat after surgery and this is a first for Imogen and she is so pleased.”
The Horden youngster, who is a pupil at Dene House Primary School, Peterlee, was chosen to undergo the operation after passing a series of tests.
The NHS had said it was putting a halt to carrying out the procedure on a routine basis last year, before then agreeing to run a trial.
Imogen’s family had already started to raise cash so it could be done privately, with the funds now freed to support her recovery.
Sarah added: “She herself wants to thank everyone who’s helped raise funds and helped her to reach her dream.
“The future is very bright for Imogen and we all as a family feel very grateful and blessed for the opportunity she has been given.
“With extensive physiotherapy she will reach her goal.”
• More details about Imogen’s Wish can be found via www.facebook.com/imogenswish, which has been used to keep supporters up to date with her progress.