Girl, 4, denied operation to help her walk due to postcode lottery to have surgery after well-wishers raise 30,000
Evie suffers from cerebral palsy and can only shuffle using a walking frameShe will undergo a procedure to 'free' her legs thanks to contributions from wellwishers after her story was featured on MailOnline in January
10:32 GMT, 28 August 2012
Karissa Skidmore with her daughter Evie Tucker who suffers from cerebral palsy. The condition means she struggles to walk
A four-year-old girl denied an operation that could help her walk because of an NHS postcode lottery will now have the procedure – after well-wishers raised 30,000.
Evie Tucker suffers from cerebral palsy – causing painful spasms in her legs – and can only shuffle a few steps at a time in her walking frame.
She will be unable to walk without a 30,000 operation, equipment and physio which is only performed at one hospital in Britain – which happens to be just 12 miles away from her home.
But her local NHS Trust ruled that Evie's case was not strong enough to justify the cost.
Her determined family ploughed straight into fundraising for the four-hour operation themselves in a bid to help Evie walk before she reaches school in September.
Her story was featured on MailOnline in January and the money was raised in just seven months.
Evie's mother Karissa Skidmore, 28, said she was so grateful to the fundraisers and looking forward to Evie dancing and playing like her friends.
She said: 'It's brilliant, amazing. I can't even describe how it feels to know we have got the money now and are just waiting for a date.
'I didn't think we would be able to do it so quickly and thought it would take about a year. Everyone has been amazing and I don't think there was an event we had to plan for ourselves.
'People just rang us and said they were doing this and doing that and took over all of it, which was really helpful. For people to take that stress away from us was wonderful.
'There have been people we don't even know who have donated a lot of money and we cannot thank them enough.'
Accounts worker Karissa, who lives in Avonmouth, Bristol, with partner Dan Tucker, 31, their son Jack and Evie, said people had held cake sales, sponsored walks and cycle rides to raise money for the operation.
Evie has already had her assessment and knows that the operation will involve neurosurgeon Kristian Aquilina 'taking out the bad bits' in her legs.
She will then have to remain in Frenchay Hospital for three weeks as an inpatient and will need a further two or three weeks of recovery.
The extra 5,000 will help fund equipment to help Evie after her surgery, as well as additional physiotherapy, costing 50 an hour.
Evie, pictured on 1st March 2008, was born 10 weeks early
Karissa added: 'More and more often Evie wakes with pains in her legs and for us the main thing is about taking that away.
'She goes to bed with tight fabric wrapped around her legs and she had to wear splints every day, which is not good when it is hot.
'We have done this to get rid of all that and make her more comfortable. We have always said that whatever the operation does on top of that is a bonus.
'We are looking at about six weeks out of school but at least she will get to start and get to know everybody else before, as it will be a lot to deal with getting used to the new feelings in her legs.'
Hopeful: Karissa hopes that the selective dorsal rhizotomy will give Evie better use of her legs following physiotherapy
Evie was delivered ten weeks early after Karissa suffered a fall and she spent the first seven weeks of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Brain scans at Southmead Hospital in Bristol showed she had cerebral palsy.
The operation – called a selective dorsal rhizotomy – can be carried out on children aged four to 11 and involves cutting some of the nerve fibres between the muscles and spinal cord.
A neurosurgeon goes in through the back of the patient while they are under general anaesthetic and tests the nerves with electrical impulses.
Any nerves acting abnormally are then cut. Patients who have the operation require physiotherapy costing around 10,000 for several months afterwards.
Although the National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence says the procedure can be provided by the NHS it says parents should be warned the procedure is irreversible. There is also a risk of complications and patients could experience a deterioration in walking ability or bladder function.
The operation has been available at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol – just 12 miles away from Evie's home – since last May.
Consultant neurosurgeon Kristian Aquilina has since performed the operation on 12 patients at the hospital and recommended it for Evie two years ago.
A further 14 children have been assessed by Mr Aquilina and had funding for the operation refused by their local NHS Trust.
NHS Bristol's exceptional funding panel considered Evie's request for the surgery but refused it in December last year.
The trust said they: 'had not been supplied with sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Miss Tucker has the potential to benefit over and above other patients with a similar condition for whom this treatment is also not currently available.'
It is estimated that 1 in every 400
children in the UK is affected by cerebral palsy and 1,800 babies are
diagnosed with the condition each year.