Fundraising campaign to give Keighley toddler a life-changing gift

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Family of a toddler with cerebral palsy have launched a fundraising campaign to give their son a life-changing gift. They aim to raise £40,000 for special surgery which will enable little Ryan Weatherall to run about and play with his friends.

Currently, the four-year-old struggles to walk without a frame due to severe tightness in his legs.

“He’s very wobbly on his feet and stumbles and falls regularly,” said mum Carla, from Riddlesden.

“It’s extremely difficult for him to climb stairs and running is impossible. He’s quite lively and very positive, but at the moment he’s not really aware of his limitations.”

Ryan was born nine weeks premature just before Christmas, 2012, at Airedale Hospital, weighing only 4lbs 7. He spent four weeks in the neonatal unit, with the initial 24 hours in intensive care. Cerebral palsy was diagnosed after two-and-a-half years, but Carla and husband Gordon suspected before then that something was wrong.

“His legs were stiff and he couldn’t sit up unsupported,” said Carla, 35, a marketing and communications officer with the National Trust.

“We realised something was amiss. He went for an assessment and it was confirmed he has Spastic Diplegia, a type of cerebral palsy characterised by tense muscles in the lower limbs. There is no cure, but he has undergone hydrotherapy and regular physio which does help.”

The family was told that Ryan would be suitable for surgery known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), which involves cutting some of the damaged nerves in the lower spine. But the operation is not available on the NHS.

“Clinical trials were being carried out through the NHS but they have now come to an end,” said Carla, who also has a nine-month-old son, Daniel.

“SDR has been performed on thousands of children across the world with amazing results. Children who were told they would never walk are not only walking, they’re running, jumping and riding bikes too. These are things that we would love to see Ryan enjoying.”

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