Cutting-edge surgery to leave wheelchair behind
MOST mums experience the joy of seeing their children take their first wobbly steps when they are still babies, but Aisling Crehan is moving heaven and earth to see her daughter Ciara take those first steps at the age of four.
The Cairns girl has cerebral palsy-spastic diplegia and has never walked unaided.
Her mother has searched every corner of the internet to find a way for Ciara to walk, run and jump like other kids.
Thanks to her mum, Ciara has been accepted at the Centre for Cerebal Palsy Spasticity in St Louis in the US for cutting-edge spinal surgery.
If successful, she will leave her four wheels behind and walk independently.
Dr TS Park has pioneered the technique of Singlelevel Laminoplasty Intraoperative Electrophysiology (SLIE), which involves the opening of one spinal vertebrae to ease spastic diplegia and allow more ease of movement and lessen pain. This operation can only be performed once. There is no second chance.
Children's Health Queensland prefers Multilevel Laminoplasty, which involves more than one vertebrae.
"I dream of her having a new set of legs, strong and reliable. It would feel like a miracle," Ms Crehan, of Trinity Beach, told The Sunday Mail.
"My whole life is dedicated to getting Ciara a better quality of life.
"Every mum wants the best for their children and after surgery and a period of rehab, there will be no stopping my little girl on her new legs.''
But this miracle comes at a big price. The family needs to raise $150,000 to get to the US for the operation and subsequent rehabilitation.
Botox has played a big role in keeping little Ciara mobile to date. She is injected in her left hamstring and bilateral calf muscles every six months by a visiting pediatric rehabilitation specialist from Lady Cilento Children's Hospital (LCCH) in Brisbane.
"Botulinum toxin A injections have proven to help reduce spasticity in Ciara's affected muscles and improve function when combined with therapy and other physical treatments,'' a LCCH spokesman said.
"A very limited number of children in Australia are assessed as suitable for the (Multilevel) procedure each year, which is why only a small number of paediatric neurosurgeons are trained to perform it. The Lady Cilento Children's Hospital has the only neurosurgeon who can do the procedure in Queensland.''