Dottie on the path to recovery after life-changing operation

Dottie O'Keefe recovering in Leeds General Infirmary hospital after undergoing a five hour operation to help her walk.
Dottie O'Keefe recovering in Leeds General Infirmary hospital after undergoing a five hour operation to help her walk.

Little Dottie O’Keefe is recovering well after undergoing a life-changing operation to help her walk on her own two feet.

The plucky four-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, had a procedure to her spine called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) after her family raised £35,000.

Dottie O'Keefe with mother Helen Noon and father Dan O'Keefe

Dottie O'Keefe with mother Helen Noon and father Dan O'Keefe

Surgeons said the operation done at Leeds General Infirmary went as well as could be expected.

Dottie is doing so well she has been discharged from hospital and had her first session of physiotherapy yesterday.

Mum Helen Noon, 25, of Rossmere, told the Mail: “She has done so well, she has just bounced back straightaway.

“The surgeon said the operation went as well as it possibly could. She wants to get up and asked the surgeon when she could have her walking frame back.

“We are just relieved.

“With all the hard work and fundraising, it is all done now.”

Dottie, developed cerebral palsy after she was born 15 weeks early and suffered a severe bleed on her brain.

Her condition means she is unable to stand or walk without the help of her special frame.

Hartlepool charity Miles for Men raised £18,000 for Dottie’s operation, which is not funded by the NHS, after organising a mass bungee jump at the marina last September.

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

A number of smaller community events helped reach the final £35,000 target.

Helen admitted there was anxious moments while Dottie was in the operating theatre.

But said she said the difference in Dottie’s flexibility was noticeable immediately.

“You could see the difference straightaway,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it.

“When I felt her muscles it was just amazing.

“Before they were really tight and she couldn’t move her ankle. Now her ankle moves freely and there is no tightness at all.”
Dottie was soon sitting up in bed and happily making cards with the staff.

She has since been discharged to stay with her family in a nearby hotel and will return regularly to the hospital for physiotherapy over the next month.

Sessions will continue closer to home for the next two years.