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‘Little fighter’ who amazed doctors after spinal operation is first nomination for Best of Hartlepool Awards 2018

Four-year-old Dottie O'Keefe with mum Helen Noon.
Four-year-old Dottie O'Keefe with mum Helen Noon.

Just over six months ago little Dottie O’Keefe could hardly walk due to her cerebral palsy.

But now she is walking tall and has amazed doctors with her progress after having a £35,000 operation that kind Hartlepool supporters helped to pay for.

Before her operation Dottie had to use this frame to get around.

Before her operation Dottie had to use this frame to get around.

And now there’s even more good news for the girl dubbed a ‘little fighter’ by her mum - because she’s become the first nomination in this year’s Best of Hartlepool Awards.

Four-year-old Dottie spent five hours on the operating table at Leeds General Infirmary in March for the operation to her spine called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).

Last week, she returned to the hospital to review her progress.

Mum Helen Noon, 26, from Rossmere, Hartlepool, said her surgeon John Gooden was delighted at how far she has come.

She deserves this nomination. She is stubborn, she is determined and when she does something, she does it because she has decided she is going to do it. She has been through a lot but nothing ever stops her. She is a little fighter.

Helen Noon

Helen said: “She has progressed loads in six months, and all the spasticity which caused the tightness in her muscles was removed which means her surgery was a massive success.

“Mr Gooden says she is doing really well and doesn’t need any more surgery as things stand.

“There was always the worry that she might need surgery on her hamstrings.

“They were all amazed at the hospital and couldn’t believe how good she has done.

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

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

“We were expecting them to say she should be a bit more ahead but apparently she is already ahead.”

Before her operation, Dottie could only walk or even stand with the aid of a special frame.

Now, thanks to the surgery and great physiotherapy delivered here in Hartlepool, she can walk several steps with just a tripod stick in one hand.

This summer the determined youngster crossed the finishing line of at the Miles for Men and Walk for Women race as her way of thanking the charity for helping to raise £18,000 towards her operation.

She is also enjoying going to Grange Primary School nearly every day where she is in reception, only coming out to go to physio sessions.

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

She also overcame meningitis.

The operation Dottie had is currently not paid for by the NHS.

Her family hope she will eventually be able to walk without any assistance at all.

Helen, who is also mum to Connie and lives with partner Daniel O’Keefe, 30, added: “Dottie’s targets after her review is to spend less time in her wheelchair and walk more and to try to take away her walking stick eventually.

“That is what we have to work on for the next six months.”

Amazing Dottie is now in the running for an award after tackling health problems all her life.

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

She was only 1lb 90z when she came into the world and had to overcome meningitis in the first months of her life.

But she’s a fighter and mum Helen added: “She deserves this nomination.

“She is stubborn, she is determined and when she does something, she does it because she has decided she is going to do it.

“She has been through a lot but nothing ever stops her. She is a little fighter.

“I definitely think she is a child of courage.”

We want you to nominate people by post to Lynn Wild, Sunderland Echo, Alexander House, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

Alternatively, you can email: lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk

The deadline for entries is Friday, October 26. Soon after that, the judges will meet to draw up a shortlist of the best entries.

And then comes the grand finale which will be held at Hardwick Hall on Thursday, November 22,