A YOUNGSTER from south east Northumberland is back home after spending a month in the United States undergoing life-changing surgery.
Callum Brown left Seaton Sluice for Missouri last month to undergo a selective dhorsal rhizotory operation at St Louis Children’s Hospital.
For the past 18 months Callum’s family have been fundraising to get the youngster, who suffers from cerebral palsy, the vital operation which they hope will see him walk independently for the first time.
Callum’s mum Sharon said: “We have been planning this for so long, it’s all we’ve been thinking about, so to finally be home with Callum having had the operation is just incredible.
“His feet are so flat, I’ve never seen them like it before, and his legs feel so much more flexible, it is incredible the difference in him already.
“He is already walking and we’ve started the physio already.”
While in St Louis, eight-year-old Callum had two major operations – including a heel and hamstring lengthening procedure, carried out by Dr Park, and has now taken his first steps.
“We are just amazed by his progress already,” Sharon added.
“Dr Park was really impressed with him, and he expects Callum to take his first independent steps in six months, and to be able to walk independently within a year.
“It’s amazing to think that could happen as it will completely change his life.
“He has never been able to run out and play, and that’s all I ever wanted for him, I’m so happy that we have been given the chance to change things for him.”
The community got behind the family’s fundraising efforts, and with support from umbrella charity Angels of the North, the family raised more than £70,000 to fund the trip.
“This would never have happened without the generosity of everyone who helped us to fundraise,” said Sharon.
“It’s such a shame that it can’t be carried out here, and it is frustrating that families like us have to raise so much money and travel so far to have the surgery carried out when it clearly works.
“Thank you to everyone who helped, and donated, and for all the help and support in achieving our goal of getting Callum there, because without that we wouldn’t be where we are today.
“The Angels of the North trustees have been in touch with me literally every day for the last 18 months and their support, advice, help and concern have been a great source of strength to my family and me.”
Angels of the North honorary chief executive officer, Barbara Connors-Fowler, said: “Having worked with Callum’s family on a daily basis for the last 18 months, all my fellow-trustees regard the Browns as an extension of our own families and we just could not be happier with the reports from the medical team in St Louis about Callum’s future.”
The family still need to raise around £10,000 for ongoing physiotherapy work, and they know the hard work is still yet to come.
“Callum will need physio to build the strength in his legs, and we will have to still fund a private physiotherapist, so the fundraisiing continues,” Sharon added.
“The hard work really does start now, as he will have to do physio every day.”
Along with the gym sessions, Callum will also have to wear a specially designed splint for at least six hours a day to help his legs get used to their new shape.
“I want him to be able to have a normal life, and to see how far he has come already is unbelievable, it is so different.
“To think he could be walking independently in a year is just absolutely fantastic.”
The family will prepare a video to send to Dr Park on Callum’s progress in six months, and will return to the United States in a year for a follow up assessment.
Anyone who would like to donate visit www.justgiving.com/callumswishtowalk