IT was a moment Oakley Smith’s parents almost didn’t dare hope for.
But, after years of fundraising, a gruelling operation in America, and tough physical training, the four-year-old has taken his first independent steps.
Oakley and his twin brother Mykey, of Scratchface Lane, Bedhampton, had a dramatic entrance into the world when their parents Angie Mahon and Terry Smith got caught in a snow storm on the way to the hospital.
Angela trudged through the snow in her nightgown and slippers after they got stuck in a traffic jam caused by the terrible January weather.
Now the family are rejoicing at the progress Oakley has made since the community rallied round to raise the £50,000 needed for pioneering selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure by Dr T S Park, at St Louis Children’s Hospital, in America.
He arrived home in August and has been working with physiotherapists and trainers ever since.
Mum Angela said: ‘We started seeing results while we were there.
‘But we recently went to Scotland for two weeks’ intense training of two hours a day.
‘He is now doing really, really well. He can now walk with his quad sticks and he has actually taken independent steps and stood for 20 seconds.
‘Before the operation he could not even sit up by himself.
‘Since the operation he’s had no pain whatsoever in his legs, which was one of the main reasons we went for it.
‘He used to wake up in the night with spasms and that doesn’t happen now.
‘He is just so much happier now and getting up to all sorts of mischief with his brother.’
The operation focused on the sensory nerves in Oakley’s spinal cord and Dr Park cut the ones that caused the spasticity.
Oakley could not crawl before the operation but is now learning to balance and has gained a huge amount of confidence.
But his family still need to do more fundraising.
The amount of physiotherapy offered by the NHS is not enough so they pay £500 a month to go private. They also need a Total Gym to work on at home.
To help go to justgiving.com/Angela-Mahon.