Cerebral palsy girl to start fireworks after op

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby, Maya McRobbie faced the prospect of being wheelchair bound by the time she was a teenager.

Maya McRobbie and mum Carol. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Maya McRobbie and mum Carol. Picture: Ian Georgeson

But after a life-changing operation, the seven-year-old is now capable of jumping around on a trampoline, attending dance classes and playing with her friends.

She used a walking frame to take to the starters’s stage at the Meadowbank fireworks display in 2012 as her family made a fundraising appeal for pioneering surgery in the US.

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On Thursday, Maya will walk completely unaided into the stadium to thank the kind-hearted people of the Lothians for raising £60,000 for the treatment – and get the fireworks party started once again.

Carol McRobbie from Edinburgh with her daughter Maya who was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy as a baby. Picture: Hemedia

Her mother, Carol, said that Maya’s life has “completely changed” since the operation in Missouri in February 2013.

The Musselburgh youngster suffered from diplegic cerebral palsy, which makes the hamstrings, calves and adductors tight. The condition made it difficult for her to do simple tasks such as washing and dressing, while it was a struggle to walk or stretch her legs.

Maya wore splints, regularly used a Zimmer and occasionally required a wheelchair. But following selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery to remove the high muscle tone, and an additional operation to lengthen her calves and hamstrings, Maya has found her independence.

It has not been an easy road, and the brave youngster has had to undergo intensive training to rebuild her muscles.

Her mum said: “It was extremely difficult, but it was amazing to watch her progress. She still has little struggles, like trying to get her heel down.”

For longer distances Maya uses a walking stick, but that doesn’t stop her from completing feats she could only have dreamed of before – like climbing Arthur’s Seat.

The keen dancer attends classes at Dancercise in Portobello and Musselburgh twice a week and can now use a regular pushbike with stabilisers.

Carol said: “By the time she was a teenager she would have been a wheelchair user. When she runs through the leaves, you’d think you had given her the world.”

As part of her rehabilitation, the Campie Primary pupil has been working with Perth-based trainer Mike Poole, who gives her tailored training plans. Her family has also converted a hut in its garden into a mini gym.

Carol said: “She loves her independence and knows she’s come this far because she’s trained for it. I can’t believe how much she’s grown.

“She never used to be able to sit on the carpet with her legs crossed with her friends [in the classroom] – now she can.”

Maya is “so excited” about Thursday, when father Gary will address the crowd first, before she makes her starring appearance.

Carol said: “We cannot thank people enough for their huge generosity and kindness in supporting Maya. She really could not have gone to the USA without their support.”

The fireworks at Meadowbank are the largest Bonfire Night celebration in the Capital. This year’s entertainment will take the crowd from the 1970s to the present day, charting the decades since Meadowbank Sports Centre opened.

• Doors will open at 6pm, with the display from 7pm. Limited tickets are available by calling 0131-661 5351 or visiting www.edinburghleisure.co.uk.