Parents raise money for ground-breaking cerebral palsy procedure

The family of a young girl with cerebral palsy is raising money to fund a pioneering surgery currently only available in the United States.

The parents of four-year-old Alannah Fitzpatrick say Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, which comes with a price tag of around £90,000, could help their child walk independently and live in less pain.

The ground-breaking procedure involves treating muscle spasms through manipulation of the spinal cord.

Young Alannah, from Nottingham, suffered a bleed to the brain at birth which left her with cerebral palsy, a life-limiting condition which affects around one in every 400 babies in the UK.

The condition can be caused before, during or after birth as a result of an injury to the brain, such as depriving the baby of oxygen, internal damage of the brain, premature birth or infection.

The symptoms commonly include poor muscle control, coordination, reflexes, posture and balance. A child with cerebral palsy can go on to live a normal and somewhat independent life providing the right care and treatments are available.

Commenting on Alannah’s condition and their mission to give her a chance to walk and live without pain, her father said: “Alannah also cannot talk as her head and mouth muscles are also affected. If you met her, she is always smiling and is a lovely, angelic child.

“As a parent, I just want to give her the best opportunity in life to help her live a normal life. At the moment she can’t walk or speak and we have to blend her food for her as she cannot chew.

“As a parent it’s difficult as I want to help her and take the pain away but there’s not much you can do. You do worry for her future when I’m eventually not here to help – I want her to be as independent as possible.”

Both parents added: “This treatment is so important for Alannah for her independence and dignity. She is stubborn and knows what she wants, and it would be great to see her growing up without getting frustrated by her physical limitations.”