A little girl who inspired the people of Hartlepool to raise thousands of pounds will have a major operation on her spine this week.
Four-year-old Dottie O’Keefe who has cerebral palsy, will have an operation at Leeds General Infirmary on Thursday.
Her parents Helen Noon and Danny O’Keefe hope it will be the start of a process that will end with her being able to walk unaided like any little girl her age.
The operation to Dottie’s spine called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is not currently funded by the NHS.
Dottie is able to have her operation sooner than expected thanks largely to Hartlepool charity Miles for Men who helped to raise £18,000 last year after organising a mass bungee jump at the marina.
Town firm TMD Friction, where Danny, 28, works also generously gave £11,000 to the fund.
Mum Helen, 25, of Rossmere, said: “I’m feeling quite excited about it at the moment but when it happens I expect I will be quite nervous.
“Dottie knows everything. She says she’s going to get an operation to help her walk.
“It has come around quite fast. Obviously, we couldn’t have it without the money that was raised.
“Having Miles for Men help so much we got it quite quick. Without them I think we would still be fundraising to be honest.”
Dottie suffered a severe bleed to her brain when she was just a few weeks old after being born 15 weeks prematurely.
It left her with cerebral palsy and means she is unable to stand or walk without help.
She has also fought off meningitis and gone through intense physiotherapy for the last three years.
Dottie has been working extra hard on her physiotherapy with sessions at the University Hospital of Hartlepool ahead of her operation.
Helen, also mum to Dottie’s little sister Connie, added: “She has been doing loads of build up work so when she has her operation it won’t knock her back as much.”
After the surgery, which is expected to take about four hours, Dottie will spend the best part of a month in and out of hospital.
“She will be recovering for about three days and they start the physiotherapy on the Monday,” said Helen.
Sizable donations were also made by businesses Utility Alliance, 23 Taxis and Mark Johnston Flooring.