Young Toby set for SDR op after Observer appeal

Toby Booker outside Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he will have his SDR operation on Friday
Toby Booker outside Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he will have his SDR operation on Friday
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Bognor Regis boy Toby Booker is preparing for his SDR operation, funded with the help of Observer readers.

The seven-year-old will have his life-changing operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London tomorrow.

The Observer series has supported the Help Toby Run With His Friends appeal to raise £40,000 since May last year and the target was reached in just five months.

Since October, the fundraising has continued and the fund total now stands at more than £62,000, which will help pay for the operation and vital follow-up care Toby will need.

Parents Ian and Jess Booker said: “We can’t really believe that we have made it this far. For the last year, our lives have revolved around fundraising events. We have been blown away by friends, family and total strangers’ kindness and generosity.

“We never thought, in our wildest dreams, that we could raise the £40,000 needed but to have raised over £60,000, so we now have enough for all his private physio, hydrotherapy and equipment for his rehabilitation, is amazing. It really doesn’t feel like a whole year ago this journey started.

“Toby is understandably very anxious about the operation but understands that without it, his mobility will deteriorate.

“Although this marks the end of our fundraising, it is really just the beginning. After his operation on April 1, Toby will have three weeks of intense physio at Great Ormond Street, then back home to work with his own physiotherapists.

“It will be a bit like boot camp! He will have to learn to walk again. His physio will now be about building his muscles and exercising, rather than stretching them. Toby will need to be cycling and walking daily and swimming weekly. He’s going to be very busy.”

Toby, of Havelock Road, has cerebral palsy and would end up in a wheelchair without the surgery. The cerebral palsy causes excessive stiffness or spasticity in his leg muscles and affects Toby’s ability to walk.

Spasticity also causes pain and, over time, shortening of muscles and tendons, joint contractures and bone deformities.

The selective dorsal rhizotomy operation will help to reduce Toby’s muscle stiffness and allow him to move around without his walking frame and wheelchair.

The family has been told that without the operation, it is likely Toby would be permanently in a wheelchair by the time he is in his 40s.

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