Pioneering surgery helps girl beat cruel effects of cerebral palsy
AN EIGHT-year-old schoolgirl who can only walk on her tiptoes has become the first child in Scotland to undergo a life-changing operation, funded by the NHS, to reverse the debilitating effects of cerebral palsy.
Brooke Ramsay, whose dream is to ride a bike like her twin sister Amy, had originally been told that the NHS would not pay for the expensive operation, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), which will allow her to walk on the soles of her feet.
But Brooke, from Carnoustie in Angus, was said to be recovering well on Wednesday after undergoing the surgery, being funded by NHS Tayside, at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital on Tuesday.
Her parents, Laura and Stewart, had raised more than £46,000 to help pay for the state-of-the-art surgery in America.
But Brooke has now become only the 23rd patient in the UK, and the first in Scotland, to have undergone the groundbreaking procedure in which surgeons cut nerves in her spinal cord in a bid to reverse the effects of her condition.
Mr Ramsay, a police officer, and his wife, a social care officer, announced the success of Brooke’s operation in a message posted on “Brooke’s Dream” – their daughter’s dedicated Facebook page.
They told supporters: “We are delighted that all went well with Brooke’s op after four hours and 40 minutes. Back on the ward and resting.”
Mr Ramsay said later that neurosurgeon Dr Kristian Aquilina, who led the surgical team, was delighted with Brooke’s progress. He said: “She was in surgery then in recovery for about an hour. Dr Aquilina said the surgery went very well with no complications at all – just a textbook case as it should be.
“She is now very tired, as you would expect, so we are just letting her rest.”
Brooke was born three months prematurely and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two years old.
She has also been diagnosed with spastic diplegia. Her muscles in both legs are extremely tight which causes her to walk on her tiptoes. As a result, her balance is poor and she is prone to falling. She has worn splints to help her walk since she was two.
Until recently, the SDR procedure was only carried out at the St Louis Hospital in Missouri where the life-changing surgery was pioneered. The surgery was first carried out at Frenchay Hospital in May last year.
Brooke’s family, which includes brother Ben, two, who is profoundly deaf, launched the “Brooke’s Dream” campaign last summer to raise the funds needed to send their daughter for private surgery either in America or at the Frenchay Hospital.
But NHS Tayside announced in April that the health board had agreed to fund the procedure. The surgery costs £24,000 with care costs of around £35,000 over three years.
SDR is said to have a 100 per cent success rate in eliminating pain and spasticity in the limbs of cerebral palsy sufferers.
Mr and Mrs Ramsay have already donated a substantial amount of the money they raised to other charities.
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