THE little girl who had stem cell treatment thanks to readers of The News is stepping out confidently.
Aided by her mum and dad, four-year-old Izabelle Evans is walking for the first time.
She took her first tentative steps seven months ago in the first week of the gruelling month-long treatment programme in China, paid for by generous readers.
Izzy, of Pagham Gardens, Hayling Island, was born with septo-optic dysplasia which affects the signals the brain sends to the body and the eyes. She also has cerebral palsy down the left-hand side of her body.
But her mum Hollie McHugh, 25, said she is amazed with her progress and she can now walk while holding her mum’s hand, sing her favourite nursery rhymes to her heart’s content and amazes her family by reaching for her toys and recognising their faces.
‘Before we went to China Izzy could just about stand up if we really supported her under her arms, but after just a week of being in hospital she could actually take about 100 steps holding our hands,’ said Hollie.
‘Now she can go on and on. We’re hoping she’ll be walking on her own by Christmas.
‘It’s the same with her sight. We accepted before she had treatment that she was blind but now she can see about a metre in front of her.
‘The other day my sister sat across the room from her and waved and Izzy waved back – it was brilliant. And she loves our fish.
‘She thinks it’s hilarious when one swims past her in the tank.’
As well as the progress with her sight and mobility she can now grip and grasp at things with her left hand where before she could hardly open it.
And she has begun feeding herself with a specially adapted spoon.
Her family take her through physiotherapy exercises every day and she is doing so well that her mum doesn’t believe any more treatment is necessary yet.
She bursts into renditions of Incy Wincy Spider and Humpty Dumpty and never stops smiling and giggling.
Hollie added: ‘She will always have to take a lot of medication, it basically keeps her alive.
‘But she loves learning new things and we are so proud of everything she has done so far. We think she’ll just keep on improving.’
Hollie said she will always be grateful to The News readers who helped pay for the £50,000 cost of Izzy’s treatment in China. The treatment was not available on the NHS.