TEENAGER Daniel Findlay will fly to America tomorrow for an operation that could help him walk unaided for the first time.
And as he prepares to jet off for the life-changing trip, the 13-year-old has said an emotional ‘thank you’ to the generous donors who have made it all possible.
An incredible community effort involving readers of The News and Daniel’s teachers and friends at Portchester Community School has raised £39,000 in 18 months.
‘I’m amazed at how generous and supportive people have been,’ said Daniel, of Albert Grove, Southsea.
‘I want to thank everyone so much.’
Daniel, has a form of cerebral palsy that causes severe tightening of the muscles.
It is hoped that an operation could help reduce the rigidity in the muscles, making the wheelchair-bound teenager more comfortable and possibly enabling him to eventually walk without help. He is going to the US as the surgery is not available on the NHS.
He said: ‘I’m nervous about the operation but also excited because it will give me a better quality of life.
‘When I’m in America I will be thinking of everyone back home. I promise I’ll try to keep in touch through emails and Facebook.’
The latest big donation came when the Findlays received a £2,674.58 cheque from four members of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service at his school yesterday.
The fire investigation team did a sponsored climb of the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in gale-force winds, low visibility and freezing conditions.
Watch manager Andy Earl said it was the thought of Daniel that kept them going through the challenge.
Daniel’s mum Sara, 50, has said: ‘The support has been overwhelming. Accepting the cheque from the fire investigation team brought a tear to my eye.
‘It’s a fantastic feeling that so many people throughout this community are not just raising money but also giving us moral support.’
She added: ‘Dan’s very nervous about the operation, but I know the outcome will eventually be good. It will be a huge change for him and there will be tears and frustration along the way as he gradually learns to use muscles he’s never used before.
‘If Dan could walk a bit with a frame it would be fantastic, but our main objective is to make him more comfortable and stop him getting worse and in more difficulty as he grows older.’
Spinal nerve op gives Daniel hope
DANIEL Findlay suffers from a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia which means he has very tight muscles.
This can create a number of problems with the skeletal frame including spine deformity and problems with walking, which get worse with age.
Daniel will now have a dorsal rhizotomy operation at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri on July 28. This involves severing nerves in the spinal column which cause the tightness in the muscles.
He will have a second operation on August 10 to lengthen his hamstring muscles.
But the treatment doesn’t end there. Daniel will have five weeks of physiotherapy in the US before returning home, where therapy will continue. More funding is needed for his after care. To make a donation visit justgiving.com/danielfindlayappeal