Family’s tense wait for operation date

The Reid family are pictured (from left) Susan, Abbi, Calum and Kevin.'Staff photograph
The Reid family are pictured (from left) Susan, Abbi, Calum and Kevin.'Staff photograph

MONTROSE parents Susan and Kevin Reid are facing a tense wait to hear when their six-year-old daughter will undergo potentially life-changing surgery.

Abbi Reid, who has cerebral palsy, has been given the go-ahead to have a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, funded by the NHS, but is now waiting to find out when the operation will take place at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The procedure is the same as that undergone by local boy Riley Murray which helped to alleviate the symptoms of his condition, allowing him to take his first independent steps and Susan said the hope is that it will give Abbi the same measure of independence.

In fact Riley, and Rhys Allan who underwent stem cell treatment in Germany, were the inspiration for Abbi’s family to find out more about available options to help her condition.

Susan said: “We hadn’t looked into the operation for her and it was relatives, after the publicity surrounding Riley and Rhys, who set the ball rolling.

“I spoke to Abbi’s physiotherapist who said the operation is now available in the UK, although it’s relatively new in this country.

“At that stage it was being done in Bristol, but I also spoke to Abbi’s consultant, Donald Campbell, in Dundee who assessed her first to see what she was able to do as they only take more able-bodied children for the operation.

“After she was also assessed for physio, her hame was put forward and although we know it’s going to be at Great Ormond Street, we don’t have a date yet.”

The operation involves identifying spinal nerves causing stiffness and pain, and opening vertebrae in the lower back to allow access to the nerve routes so those affected can be cut to reduce tightness in the muscles.

Although the technique was developed originally in 1898 it has only really become popular over the last 30 years, and the first operation in the UK was carried out two years ago.

Susan added that the NHS funding only covers the operation and the family will start to fund-raise in the near future to help meet the costs of the intensive physiotherapy necessary to Abbi’s progress.

She said: “We’re apprehensive about it but feel that if we don’t give her this opportunity we just don’t know what her future will hold.

“We still have to go down to Great Ormond Street for a formal assessment there and we’re waiting to hear about that at the moment, but we’ve been told we can start fund-raising.

“At the moment Abbi gets physio once a week and that will still be paid for after the operation, but she’ll need four or five sessions a week and that will have to be funded and any equipment she needs will have to be paid for.

“Afterwards she will probably be able to walk properly, although she can walk for short distances and uses a wheelchair for longer distances, but we’re hoping she’ll be able to ride her bike and be able to do some of the same things as her big brother and her friends.

“We’re quite optimistic about it. There are degrees of cerebral palsy and every children is different, so hopefully it will be a great improvement.

The family has set up a Facebook page, ‘Abbi’s Journey’, to help with fund-raising which they aim to start over the weekend of Montrose Music Festival although Susan said that some friends and relatives have already started organising sponsored events to help out.

Solid support has also been given by the Montrose Emergency Services group which has adopted Abbi as one of its nominated charities for this year.

She continued: “There are a few things that people have said they’re going to do for us and with the music festival coming up we’re hoping to raise awareness then and maybe do a bit of collecting.

“At the moment we’re still getting our heads round the enormity of it all.”