Chris and Colin Weir dipped into their £161 million Euro-Millions jackpot to pay for a revolutionary spinal surgery for a young girl rom Cheltenham. Four year old, Skye Swinton faced a complex operation, the first of its kind in the UK, two months ago to help cure her Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy and took her first steps without walking sticks on Christmas Day.
The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, took four hours to complete and although the procedure has been carried out in the U.S. for many years, it is new to the UK. The technical operation involves partially cutting the nerve roots where they join the spinal cord to loosen the muscles, the operation rectifies spinal issues quickly so that patients spend less time wheelchair bound.
Skye’s operation is a neurosurgical technique used to treat spasticity, also known as increased muscle tone, in the lower limbs. The surgery requires the bones of the spine to be opened and reveal the end of the spinal cord in order to gain access to the nerve roots.
Two groups of nerve roots then leave the spinal cord. The ventral spinal roots send information to the muscle and the dorsal roots transmit sensation from the muscle to spinal cord. The neurosurgeon divides each of the dorsal roots into three to five rootlets and stimulates each rootlet electrically. By examining responses from muscles in the lower extremities, the surgical team identifies the rootlets that cause spasticity.
The abnormal rootlets are selectively cut, leaving the normal rootlets intact. This reduces messages from the muscle, resulting in a better balance of activities of nerve cells in the spinal cord, and thus reduces spasticity.
Skye’s parents Ruth and John Swinton said it was the best gift they could have ever wished for and were grateful for the help from the Weir couple from Largs, North Ayrshire. Mother Ruth, said: “Seeing her walking with a smile on her face is the most amazing Christmas present to us – it’s very special.
“Her progress since the operation has been amazing. Her quality of movement is so much better than it was before. In the past she was unable to walk properly on her own because she could only walk on the tips of her toes. That led to all sorts of other issues with her posture and would have led to movement problems in future. She can walk just the same as everyone else. She is absolutely loving it and wants to show off how well she can walk.”
Mother Ruth had produced a letter to Mrs and Mr Weir asking if they could help with the £28,000 price needed for the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation as their local NHS trust in Cheltenham, Gloucester were unable to produce the funding. Friends and family already raised £12,000 for surgery allowing Skye to walk normally although they were still a long way from the £40,000 needed for the complete surgery.
In a statement from Mr and Mrs Weir they hoped their donation would allow the Swinton family to concentrate on Skye’s welfare. They said: “Skye faces many challenges in the next year and she needs her mum and dad to be focused on her. That’s why we’ve given a donation. Without the additional pressure of fundraising, their time can be spent on Skye.”
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