A LOCAL couple have set themselves the monumental task of raising more than £50,000 for surgery which will help their six-year-old son walk for the first time.
Riley Murray has been accepted for an operation at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in the United States which could help him to take his first steps.
Riley, a pupil at Lochside Primary School, has cerebral palsy and currently relies on an electric wheelchair to get around. His parents, Trudy and Dale, had more or less consigned themselves to the fact that he would never walk but the surgery, performed by renowned neurosurgeon Dr T.S. Park, offers the family a glimmer of hope.
Trudy said this week that the operation, a selective dorsal rhizotomy, could give Riley a measure of independence that he has so far only dreamed of.
She said: “We attend the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld and a wee boy from there went for this operation and the difference was amazing. We began the process last year and sent over X-rays and a therapist’s video.
“We only found out this week that Riley had been accepted and have decided that to give him a better life we really have to take this chance for him.
“We’ve been told that his walking will improve significantly and he’ll at least be able to walk with a walker, there’s high potential he could be walking with crutches and they’re not ruling out him being able to walk independently in a protected environment.
“We had more or less accepted his life would be with a wheelchair so to get this news is amazing.”
During the procedure Dr Park will identify and cut nerve roots within Riley’s spine that cause his spasticity resulting in smoother, freer movements.
The difficult decision to let Riley undergo the major procedure was made more difficult because his twin Brodie, who was born 11 weeks premature, underwent a hernia operation at the age of 11 weeks but never recovered from the anaesthetic.
Trudy said: “From speaking to other parents it’s made me realise that it’s a huge risk we’re taking on but his life will improve significantly and give him a chance of an independent life.”
Dale and Trudy have set a target of £55,000, which will cover the cost of the surgery, physiotherapy and four or five weeks’ accommodation for themselves and daughter Leyla. They plan to apply to several charities for grant aid but will also run a series of local fund-raisers to help meet their target, the first of which will be a race night in the Neptune Bar on Friday, June 10.
They have also started a Facebook page - Riley’s First Steps - to raise awareness of the campaign and for people to submit fund-raising ideas.
Trudy said: “If anyone wants to come forward with fund-raising ideas, that would be great. We’ve had so much support from everyone in the past and it has really been overwhelming.”