A FIVE year-old girl is hoping to walk for the first time after a £50,000 operation funded by donations.
Grace Windram, from Kingsthorpe, flew back from the United States at the weekend where she underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery and took her first steps with a walking frame.
Now back at home she is already undergoing daily intensive physiotherapy to encourage her chances of one day walking unaided, defying doctors who said she would never be able to walk when they diagnosed her with cerebral palsy.
Her mum Helen Windram said the procedure, which Grace was not eligible for in the UK, has been ‘beyond life-changing’ and opened up a world of opportunities for the previously wheelchair-bound young girl.
She said: “It’s hard to process that the girl I’m seeing standing upright and walking is my child; it’s brilliant.
“The change we have seen is mind-blowing, it is really drastic.
“There was a point when I thought: ‘what have I done, why have I put my child through this pain?’ but now I can look her and say: ‘that’s why’.
“Seeing her standing straight with a walking frame is unbelievable.”
The five week trip to St Louis also included a second operation to reduce the spasticity in her legs, which involved cutting nerves in the lower spine that are responsible for muscle rigidity.
Her surgeon has predicted Grace will be walking confidently with a frame in six months and beginning to walk with cane sticks, but her mum thinks she will beat the targets.
Within three years she is expected to be wheelchair-free, and in the long term will be able to walk unaided indoors, and with crutches outdoors.
Helen, a trained occupational therapist, added: “We are constantly surprised at what she is achieving and she is always pushing herself.
“She has always exceeded our expectations.”
But Grace still has a lot of hard work to do, completing an hour of physiotherapy and an hour of stretches most days, on top of being encouraged to walk as much as she can.
Helen and Gavin Windram, who also have a one-year-old daughter Amelia, pay for three private sessions of physio every week, at a cost of about £10,000 a year and require around £5,000 worth of equipment to help Grace as she progresses.
Helen said: “It’s harder on a day-to-day basis than it was before because it is more intensive.
“She has to work very hard now, the next year is vital in the long term.
“Life changing just doesn’t cover it, it’s the most beneficial thing we have ever done for her.
“She’s always going to be wobbly, but we’ve almost certainly given her the chance to live independently without relying on carers.
“She’ll be able to drive an adapted car, go to university and live independently.”
The family are continuing to fund-raise to meet the costs of physiotherapy and equipment. Donations can be made via www.gracesfund.org