THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised by well-wishers to pay for life-changing surgery for a man born with cerebral palsy.
Jake Barker’s mum Shellie Dickinson, of Wyke, is hoping crowdfunding will raise the £20,000 needed to pay for the surgery that will help her 23-year-old son do what most people take for granted.
Fundraisers on the family’s justgiving page have totalled £2,500 in a matter of months. And there is more money to come from other events which have included a pub charity night, a cake sale and an Easter egg raffle organised at Calderdale Hospital by Jake’s grandma Corrine Bairstow and her friend Lindsey Stafford which made £600.
Mrs Dickinson’s work colleagues at Bibby Financial Services are also planning a sponsored bike ride from their southern-most office in Brentwood to their northern-most office in Glasgow.
Despite operations on tendons in his heels, having his hamstrings operated on twice, having his hip muscles lengthened once and his big toes aligned, all before his 16th birthday, Jake still struggles to walk.
Surgeons in the USA have been performing a procedure that involves cutting the nerves in the lower spine to relax the muscles in the legs, but it is still fairly new in the UK and cannot be carried out on the NHS, said Mrs Dickinson.
But the family have found a surgeon in Leeds who is prepared to consider Jake for the procedure – called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy – although it will be the first time he has operated on a cerebral palsy patient as old as him.
Jake will soon be having a botox injection to simulate the feeling successful surgery will give him; the sensation will last about six hours to give him an idea of what life could be like.
Mrs Dickinson said: “We need to raise all the money before surgery can go ahead so we don’t have a date yet.
“We are so thankful for all the support we’ve had already. We’ve still got a long way to go but with people’s help we’ll get there.”
Jake has fought for his health since birth when he was born premature and needed life support. Despite his mum’s concerns about him not walking, he was only diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two and a half.