The future looks brighter for a Fulham schoolgirl diagnosed with cerebral palsy after local residents raised funds to pay for her life-changing operation.
Months of unfaltering support from Caya Newman’s family, friends and even complete strangers came to fruition this month as the little girl had the surgery needed to help her walk.
Eight-year-old Caya, who attends Sulivan Primary School, is already managing to move her body in ways she simply couldn’t before the op – according to mum Lucy Machin – and ‘getting excited when she does’.
“Caya is doing so well and I want to thank everyone so much,” said Lucy, of Townmead Road, Fulham.
“There really have been so many people involved, many we don’t even know, There are so many things that she can already do now – I pick her up and she can wrap her legs around me, which she could never do before. It is just amazing to see.”
Caya – who will turn nine next month – was diagnosed with a painful condition known as spastic diplegia cerebral palsy when she was a baby, which meant she could no longer walk unaided.
After NHS funding was stopped for the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) operation, to cut the nerves in the spinal cord that contributed to her daughter’s condition, Lucy was determined to find a way to foot the bill.
The hefty £41,000 cost includes £31,000 for the surgery and another £10,000 for ongoing physio and aftercare.
School fundraising efforts and a marathon walk around South Park last year by Lucy and her friend Jemma Greenslade helped bring in cash, but the total was still some way off.
However, when Luca Nelson-Crookshank, nine, planned to do his own quarter marathon to help his best friend, the story was featured on ITV news and This Morning, with dramatic results.
Luca raised more than £6,000 from his 6.5mile walk, and his contribution helped tip the balance to allow Caya’s op to go ahead.
“He is amazing and a really good friend to Caya,” added Lucy.
Caya’s five-hour operation was carried out by consultant paediatric neurosurgeon Mr Kristian Aquilina, a specialist in SDR at The Portland Hospital, on 7 January.
“It was a nervous wait in a room upstairs, but it was all very calmly done and the doctors and nurses were brilliant,” said Lucy.
“Straight after the surgery she was lying on the bed but her body looked different, more comfortable.”
After a week-long stay at the hospital, Caya was able to come home, but had to return twice a day for outpatient appointments and physiotherapy until 27 January.
Now, she faces six months of intensive physiotherapy and will continue having physio for her whole life, but mum Lucy said: “Caya is improving each day, so who knows where she will be by her birthday.
“It just makes you think that anything is possible. Thank you all again.”
If you would still like to contribute to Caya’s ongoing aftercare visit her fundraising page.
Read our previousr news stories about Caya: