The parents of a three-year-old Newport boy with cerebral palsy have embarked on a fundraising journey to raise £60,000 for him to have life changing Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, which is not currently available on the NHS.
Oliver and his twin brother Thomas, were born prematurely in May 2014 in the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. Oliver was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia at 18 months after his parents (Jane Parker and Anthony Armstrong) realised he was not reaching his milestones.
Oliver’s Cerebral Palsy is characterised by abnormal high tone in his leg muscles, which affects his muscle control, balance and co-ordination and makes simple things such as sitting and crawling difficult. He is not yet able to stand or walk independently and it’s hoped that SDR surgery will remove, or at least reduce, the spasticity in his legs and give him a better quality of life.
While neurologists have confirmed that Oliver is a suitable candidate for SDR, the operation is currently not funded by the NHS, so his family are aiming to raise £60,000 through fundraising. All money raised will be used to pay for surgery at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (one of seven hospitals in the UK that offer SDR surgery), specialist aftercare, intensive on-going physiotherapy for the next two years and any equipment Oliver may need in the future.
Jane said: “We noticed Oliver was not reaching certain milestone such as sitting up properly or crawling and although we tried not to compare him with Thomas, we had a feeling that something was wrong. In 2015 an MRI scan confirmed that Oliver had cerebral palsy with the doctors saying they believe Oliver had a stroke while in the womb.
“Oliver is fun, bright and inquisitive, and desperate to join in with his brothers’ games. He currently uses a walker to get around but what we have seen from SDR we believe this could make a huge difference to his quality of life. There is evidence to demonstrate that SDR is associated with substantial long-term benefits. These are not only related to reduction in spasticity, but also relate to improved movement and walking as well as improved quality of life.
“As well as fundraising we also want to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. In the UK it’s estimated that one in 400 babies are born with a type of cerebral palsy and one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy is prematurity.
“We started fundraising earlier this year and have hosted a number of events including a quiz night, a cheese and wine evening, a golf day and a comedy night. One friend has done a bungee jump and others asked everyone going to their son’s christening to donate to our fund in lieu of gifts! So far thanks to everyone’s generous support we have raised over £13,000. If anyone is able to support us in achieving our target, any donation would be very gratefully received.”
There will be a bucket collection at this weekend's Sky Bet League Two match against Carlisle United. We encourage all Newport County AFC supporters to donate generously for this brillaint cause and help Oliver as much as you can.