This operation has set me free, says thrilled Thomas
An 11-year-old boy has described how his life has been transformed after he underwent specialist medical treatment to help him stand up a year ago.
Thomas Hughes has a form of cerebral palsy which, since birth, has severely constricted his leg muscles, forcing him to walk on tip-toes and leaving him in constant pain.
He could not stand still and was prone to toppling over.
But last year, Thomas flew to America for specialist treatment thanks to family friends and others who helped to raise £55,000.
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He underwent two operations in St Louis, Missouri, by leading surgeon Dr T.S. Park, one to sever nerves in his spine which constricted his legs and another to lengthen the muscles in his legs.
Twelve months later, after intensive physiotherapy and training sessions, he has become a self-confident chatterbox who wants to try everything.
The youngster, from Stoke Golding near Hinckley, said: "This operation has set me free. I can jump and join in with things I could not do before. I want to thank all those who made that possible for me by raising the money."
His proud dad, David, said: "Thomas is now a totally different little boy from the shy, quiet lad who went to America. It used to break our hearts to watch him looking longingly at the other children playing, wishing he could join in. Since coming back he has begun to shine. He is now a self-confident, outgoing chatterbox who tries absolutely everything going.
"As he now no longer has to concentrate on his movement and discomfort, his school work has improved dramatically."
In the autumn he moved to high school and is now rapidly catching up with his classmates, despite all the schooling he has missed for medical reasons.
Thomas has physiotherapy three times a week and David and mum Kate work with him on his exercises four times a week.
They also make regular visits to personal trainer Mike Poole in Perth in Scotland.
David said: "Thomas loves going up there and the results are quite simply breathtaking.
"He has started running short distances. He very rarely falls now and always has a smile on his face."
"We want to get Thomas riding a bicycle and we are going to try rock climbing. Mike believes he can do it and now so do we.
"We are eternally indebted to everyone who helped us raise the money to change Thomas' life. A special thank you has to go to our dedicated team of fund-raisers who gave up six months of their lives for Thomas."
David believes the treatment, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, should be made widely available by the NHS in this country. He said: "This operation should be available to all families in the UK who have someone with Cerebral Palsy.
"It is not suitable for everyone, as all cases of CP are different, but everyone it can help deserves the opportunity to change their lives forever.''