Hitchin family’s £10,000 appeal to help Jack, 9, walk independently after life-changing op
- Credit: Archant
The family of a young boy who struggles to walk without taking drugs are hoping to raise £10,000 to help their son in the aftermath of an operation which is set to change their lives.
Jack Gower from Hitchin has had spastic paraplegic cerebral palsy since birth – a condition which makes his limbs extremely stiff and means he is constantly taking on drugs to help relax his muscles and improve his mobility.
The nine-year-old Highover School pupil has an internal pump fitted to administer the drug, but Jack’s mum Ella told the Comet special surgery would give her son a chance of walking independently instead of using a frame or a wheelchair.
The procedure – called selective dorsal rhizotomy – involves severing the nerves carrying signals to the brain which cause the muscles to permanently tighten.
Jack has had his heels broken and reset in readiness for an NHS-funded SDR operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in August, but the Gower family want to raise £10,000 to allow their son to have physiotherapy once a week for two years to give him the best chance of walking independently.
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“He’s totally reliant on the drug and it’s only masking the problem,” said Ella, who lives with Jack, husband Ben and five-year-old son Noah at their family home in Stotfold Road.
“He has to have the pump refilled every three months and replaced every five years. Everything below his waist is affected by the pump and there’s only so much of the drug they can give him.
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“To give him a permanent chance of walking, SDR is the only option.
“The operation will mean no more hospital trips but it has to be done before his next birthday as the NHS only funds the operation for children aged between three and nine.
“SDR will change our lives.”
The family set up a special appeal for Jack at the turn of the year to fund the physiotherapy, and Ella completed last month’s Brighton Marathon as part of their fundraising mission.
Jack’s friend Jen Clare, a seven-year-old girl from Stevenage who he met as dad Ben works with Jen’s father Mark, underwent the same operation in 2012 and has now pledged to do a sponsored walk after seeing a marked improvement in her mobility.
On hearing the news, Ella added: “I’m completely humbled by it. I think she is incredible. She’s such an amazing little girl.”
Family friends are also pitching in by doing a sky dive and wing walk, while Highover is holding a sponsored bounce where pupils will have a slot on a bouncy castle.
To support Jack, visit www.justgiving.com/Jackswishtowalk.