Hartlepool schoolboy Alfie Smith has been dealt a blow to his dreams of one-day walking painfree and unaided after being told he will need a second operation.
The nine-year-old is today undergoing selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at Leeds General Hospital.
I’m nervous as well as excited. It’s quite a dangerous operation and I’ve been up and down with my feelings.Annie Stalley
The surgery will kick-start the long journey for the youngster, who has cerebral palsy, to one day being able to walk unaided.
The operation has been made possible following fundraising efforts of people and businesses across the region to secure the minimum £50,000 needed to enable the surgery to go ahead.
However, it was during the pre-op assessments it was discovered an operation will also be needed on his hamstrings.
His mum Annie Stalley, said: “I always knew an operation on his hamstrings was a possibility, but following his assessments it has been confirmed he will need to have a second operation.
“I’m hoping it will be done sooner rather than later, as I don’t want him to get so far in his physio only for him to have to go back to the start once he has this operation.
“His hamstring muscles are pretty bad and the pre-op assessments have shown how bad they are.”
The youngster who has had to move to Leeds with his mum for at least a month while he recovers from surgery will undergo the surgeon’s knife today.
The SDR operation will involve the youngster having his back cut open and tests carried out on the nerve fibres running from the muscles to the spinal cord to find which ones contribute most to the spasticity. These are then divided to reduce stiffness and spasticity.
The operation will take around five to six hours if everything goes to plan, with Alfie anathematised throughout.
He will then be placed on the high dependency unit to recover before he is eventually released from hospital.
His mum added: “I’m nervous as well as excited. It’s quite a dangerous operation and I’ve been up and down with my feelings.
“I’ve met another SDR family while I’ve been in Leeds which has given me a lot of hope.
“I’ve been waiting for this operation for Alfie for nine years, but it feels like a lifetime.
“Alfie is just his happy self, he’s getting really excited about his new legs.
“It is going to be a long, hard road ahead for both of us, and I’m expecting a lot of ups and downs along the way.
“But we’re ready for it.”