Keira stands tall for the first time after surgery

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IT'S something her parents thought they might never see - their daughter standing up by herself.

Beaming Keira Power shows how she can stand tall for the first time in her young life.

The five-year-old, born with a form of cerebral palsy, was never able to stand up for more than a few seconds because of her condition.

But after a life-changing operation on her spine, she is now able to stand for the first time.

And she can even take a few steps unaided.

The four-hour operation in America was paid for after her parents - with the help of readers of The News - raised 50,000.

Mum Sally, 39, said: 'We have both been overwhelmed - we didn't expect to have made so much progress in such a short time.

'It's only been 10 weeks since the operation.

'What she's achieved in that time is fantastic,

'She can now take six or seven very wobbly steps independently. There are signs that with the right work she will be able to build on that.

'Before she could only stand on her own for two or three seconds. So the difference is huge.'

She said she wanted to thank all The News readers who have helped raise cash to pay for the operation, which took place in October in St Louis, Missouri.

'We will never know who some of them are, but we would like to thank them,' she added.

Before the procedure, Keira's muscles were painfully stiff and she had to walk on tiptoes with the aid of a frame. But the operation has released the tension in her legs.

For the first time she has managed to swim two lengths of the swimming pool at Roko Health Club in Copnor Road, Portsmouth.

Dad Jason, 36, of Goldcrest Close, Horndean, said he hoped his daughter would continue to improve after making the astonishing progress she has achieved so far.

'It's really amazing,' he said. 'From where we have come from in the past few weeks, we don't know where it's going to plateau.

'At the moment, she's improving every day and it's amazing to watch.'

Keira will be undergoing rigorous physiotherapy sessions for the next few months to help her walk.

Mr Power said: 'Her balance has improved. Before it was like trying to stand a pencil on its end - she could only stand for five seconds.

'Now she can manage two minutes. It's early days still - but if you think about her lifetime, she's just getting better and better.'

Keira's dream gift will have to wait until next Christmas, however. She wants to own a real pair of fancy pink shoes to walk in.

Mr Power said: 'She said maybe next Christmas she would be able to get some special princess shoes for dressing up. That's her goal.'