The family of a little boy who was born with brain injuries has started a campaign to help him to walk.
Little Wes Knight, who has cerebral palsy, can’t crawl or sit and is unlikely to be able to walk without special treatment in the USA.
Now a website – wesleyswish.org – has been set up to help raise £95,000 for the operation and three years of intensive physiotherapy.
Wes, who is almost 17 months old, started life in intensive care after being born nine weeks prematurely. Despite apparently doing well, a routine scan picked up bleeding in his head and it was found that part of his brain had permanently stopped working.
He faces the prospect of life in a wheelchair unless funding can be found for the specialist operation.
His mum and dad, Catherine and Tim, from Guiseley, who have two daughters Isobel, 14, and Amelie, four, are organising fundraising events along with friends.
Tim said: “There is hope for many children in Wes’s situation via an operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involves neurosurgery to reduce the muscle stiffness that prevents cerebral palsy sufferers from walking.”
He said the most advanced, reliable SDR treatment was available at the St Louis Childrens’s hospital in the USA.
He added: “Wes is lively and ambitious, he really wants to get places. While he can't crawl or sit, he has managed to work out a system of rolling and bending which can get him from one side of the room to another. It’s amazing to watch.
“As he gets older, though, and sees his sisters doing so much, he gets frustrated that he can’t achieve the same things. His difficulties aside, he’s a smart, lovely lad who is never far from a smile.”
The Knights are hoping the treatment will make “all the difference in the world” to their son.
“Through our own research we’ve spoken to several families who’ve raised funds for the SDR procedure. In many instances, kids who had been consigned to a future of wheelchairs are now walking and integrated in normal schools,” Tim added.
“The SDR operation that was pioneered in the US has been practised for more than 20 years and transformed the lives of more than 2,300 children.”
A cake sale and coffee morning will take place at 10am on March 9 at Guiseley Methodist Church. It will include cakes, refreshments, Mothers’ Day gifts and games for children.
Friends and family are also planning triathlons, races and other challenges to raise funds.
Go to wesleyswish.org to make a donation or volunteer to help.