BATTLING Hartlepool boy Oliver Smart gives his mum a big kiss as he comes round from major surgery that has raised hopes he may walk by himself.
Doctors said Oliver, two, would never be able to walk unaided after a rare childhood l Turn to Page 3
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cancer left him paralysed from the waist down.
But after undergoing a risky four-hour operation to remove more than half of a tumour from his spine, medics and Oliver’s family were delighted to discover he has new movement in his legs.
Mum Mandy Smart, 28, said: “We were told Oliver would never walk unaided.
“After this operation we found out he’s got movement in his legs.
“Now he’s aware they are there and what to do with them.
“He’s got a timy bit of movement in his feet and he can lift his legs and bend his knees.
“We are still shocked.”
Oliver was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was just eight months old.
Fewer than 100 children in the UK are diagnosed each year with it.
Oliver first underwent intricate surgery to remove the cancerous tumour from his spine in November 2012.
He was readmitted to Newcastle’s RVI Hospital last week after scans revealed it had grown.
It was putting pressure on his other vital organs and making him prone to infections.
Mandy, of Brierton, Hartlepool, added: “It was a risky operation but it went well. He was in theatre from 10am to 2.30pm.
“Everyone is amazed by how well he’d done, he’s fighting all the time.
“He’s been through so much since he was eight months old but he always comes out with a smile.
“He’s an inspiration to everyone.”
Mandy and husband David, 38, hope the surgery will stop the tumour in its tracks and enable Oliver to live a normal life.
In the meantime, they are trying to raise enough money to buy a mini quad bike to help Oliver get around after he outgrew his old one.
Mandy, also mum to Joshua, nine, Courtney, seven, Thomas, six, Riley, four and 10-month-old Bethany, added: “He can’t get about like a normal child.
“Getting the quad bike would mean his freedom and his independence.
“We don’t want him to be classed as different.”
Family friend Michelle Mann has organised a fundraiser at Busby’s bar in Church Street, Hartlepool, on October 5.
The night will feature raffles, karaoke and a disco.
Mandy said: “I can’t thank her enough.”