A HARTLEPOOL youngster is hoping 2012 brings him the final piece of good news in his 15-month battle to fitness.
Mitchell Spencer, 11, will return in April to the St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, USA, which was the scene of a major operation to help him walk better.
Back in October 2010, the Hartlepool schoolboy, who has cerebral palsy, faced two bouts of surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy.
First, the nerves in his legs, which were sending faulty messages to his muscles, were cut to leave the remaining nerves intact. Days later, Mitchell had more surgery at the hospital to lengthen his heel cords and hamstrings.
In the months that followed, his progress was remarkable. Mitchell, from Cresswell Court in Hartlepool, has even managed a five-mile walk along the Cleveland Way to the top of Roseberry Topping.
Now mum Deborah, 45, is hoping Mitchell could be just 12 weeks away from a return trip to see Missouri surgeon Dr TS Park and to the ultimate in good news, that he needs no further surgery.
Mitchell had the original operation thanks to a £50,000 fundraising campaign – called Get Mitchell To America – supported by dozens of people throughout Hartlepool and the North-East.
It was followed by months of intensive physiotherapy and the whole programme proved to be a massive success, much to the joy of proud parents Deborah and Phil Spencer, 43.
Today Deborah told the Mail: “If it was not for the people who helped, Mitchell would be walking with sticks by now and he would not be able to walk independently.
“He would probably be using a wheelchair for longer trips.
“This has made such a massive difference to his quality of life. It is such a difference to what it could have been.
“Now, it is a case of building up his strength and stamina, but nothing more surgically.”
She described Mitchell’s progress as “one of those rollercoasters where nothing happens and then suddenly he comes on in leaps and bounds.
“But it is continuous good progress. He can walk further than he could before. He can play with his friends, do rugby and hockey which he could not do before.”
The only hiccup has been the discovery that Mitchell has a slight twisting of his pelvis which will mean a change in his physiotherapy to correct it.
But Deborah described it as a “minor setback”.