Battling Hartlepool youngster could hardly walk just over a year ago – now she is riding a scooter

Look at her go! Just over a year ago, five-year-old Dottie O’Keefe, who has cerebral palsy, could hardly walk.

Monday, 6th May 2019, 10:56 am
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 11:01 am
Dottie O'Keefe, 5 one year on from life-chaging spine operation with mother Helen Noon

Now, 12 months on from a life-changing operation – after supporters helped raise £35,000 – Dottie is continuing to take big steps towards walking unaided.

She can even ride a scooter.

Dottie O'Keefe, 5 one year on from life-chaging spine operation with mother Helen Noon

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Mum Helen Noon, 26, of Rossmere, Hartlepool, said: “We are very happy with her progress.

“We never thought she would ever be able to ride a scooter, but she has proved us wrong.”

Medical professionals are also delighted with how well Dottie is doing.

On Friday, she went to Leeds General Infirmary for her one year review following the operation to her spine called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).

Dottie O'Keefe, 5 one year on from life-chaging spine operation

Helen, also mum to Connie, aged three, added: “They are pleased with her. She has hit all her targets they gave her like staying at school more and reducing her leg splints which she has.

“She is doing really well and wears only one splint on her leg. She used to wear two, and now she uses just one tripod stick.

“She can walk for longer periods of time now and hopefully will get better as time goes by.”

Dottie is now able to spend more time at Grange Primary School where she has daily physiotherapy.

Dottie O'Keefe chatting to consultant John Gooden who carried out her operation at Leeds General Infirmary.

And about once a week she has physio at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Dottie’s operation was not funded by the NHS so her family and the community raised £35,000.

Of that, £18,000 was raised thanks to charity Miles For Men which organised a mass bungee jump at Hartlepool Marina.

To say thank you, determined Dottie took part in last year’s Miles For Men and Walk For Women event at Seaton Carew and walked over the finishing line by herself.

Dottie O'Keefe in hospital as a baby

TMD Friction where Dottie’s dad Danny O’Keefe, 30, works contributed £11,000, while local companies Utility Alliance, 23 Taxis and Mark Johnston Flooring all made substantial contributions.

Dottie has continually astounded her parents by overcoming all manner of hurdles.

Born 15 weeks prematurely, at just a few weeks old she suffered a severe bleed to her brain which caused her to have cerebral palsy, particularly down her right side.

She also fought off meningitis, and before her back operation suffered pain and spasms in her legs due to the tightness of the muscles.