Celebrations as Toby campaign hits target

Seven-year-old Toby Booker, right, with parents Ian and Jess, and brother Harry ks1500263-4
Seven-year-old Toby Booker, right, with parents Ian and Jess, and brother Harry ks1500263-4

FIVE months after launching Help Toby Run With His Friends in the Observer series, the £40,000 appeal target has been reached.

The news this week means that seven-year-old Toby Booker can have his life-changing SDR operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

It will make a world of difference to Toby, of Havelock Road, Bognor Regis, who has cerebral palsy and would end up in a wheelchair without the surgery.

Parents Ian and Jess had set aside a year to raise the money, as the ideal age for the operation is eight years old.

But thanks to generous Observer readers and young and old in the community, the £40,000 has been reached and the total is still growing.

Ian said: “We are thrilled to announce that we have made it to the surgery target of £40,000. We have been totally overwhelmed by all the support and cannot believe we reached this amount so quickly.

“We will never forget the lengths that family, friends and complete strangers have gone to help our special little boy.

“From the massive events which took months to organise, to the boy who donated 87p from his money box, this will change Toby’s future and give him opportunities which we have only ever dreamed of.

“We would also like to thank reporter Elaine Hammond and the Observer for carrying our story and keeping us in the public’s eye. We definiely could not have raised this money in such a relatively short time without everyone’s help and kindness.

“We are continuing though, as there are still events planned in the next few months and we want to make sure that we have enough money for the post-operation physiotherapy and equipment”

Surgery at present looks likely to be in May or June next year.

Helping to take the total over the target amount were two big events over the weekend.

The Mayor’s Auction, organised by Bognor mayor Jeannette Warr, raised more than £800 and a concert at 2nd Worthing Scout HQ on Saturday evening raised £930.

The selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is an operation used to improve spasticity in cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy occurs when a child sustains a brain injury early in life. This usually happens before birth but can happen around the time of birth and even in the first year of life.

Although the brain injury does not get any worse, the difficulties it causes change continuously in the growing child.

One of the most common causes of cerebral palsy is prematurity. Certain parts of the premature brain are vulnerable to damage, particularly the parts which control leg movement and co-ordination. In turn, this leads to excessive stiffness or spasticity in the leg muscles and can impair the child’s ability to learn to walk.

Spasticity also causes pain and, over time, shortening of muscles and tendons, joint contractures and bone deformities. Nerve fibres running from the muscles back to the spinal cord play a major role in maintaining this muscle stiffness. SDR, by dividing some of these fibres, is very effective at reducing stiffness and spasticity.

SDR is carried out while children are under general anaesthesia and takes around four to five hours. Children are then in hospital for about three weeks before being discharged with an intense physiotherapy programme.

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