AN Ilkley boy has undergone life-changing surgery - thanks to the generosity of Wharfedale residents.

Gabriel Kendell, of Burley-in-Wharfedale, has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and needed an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR).

He was selected for the operation at Leeds General Infirmary but unfortunately it wasn’t available on the NHS. His family launched a successful £40,000 fundraising drive and Gabriel had his SDR operation at Leeds on July 5.

Mr John Goodden, who carried out the five-hour procedure, said it had successfully relieved the spasticity in both of Gabriel’s legs. Now a long programme of physiotherapy will aim to give the four-year-old full movement of his muscles and joints, allowing him to walk properly for the very first time.

After the operation Gabriel spent two days in a High Dependency Unit before being transferred to a normal children’s ward. His two-year programme of intensive physiotherapy began on Monday.

After the operation his dad Drew, 46, said: “He’s been a real little trooper. As soon as he came round from the anaesthetic Gabe was all smiles and the only real challenge has been keeping him still in bed while he recuperates!”

He added: “The surgeons and staff at LGI were absolutely incredible – he honestly couldn’t have had any better care. It just so happened that the operation was on the exact 70th anniversary of the NHS – which was a good omen - and it just makes you realise how lucky we are to have such a brilliant institution.”

Gabriel’s mother Sarah, 40, said: “The fact is that without the kindness of all of those people who donated and fundraised for Gabriel’s campaign, he wouldn’t have been able to have the operation at all. This will have such a massive impact on Gabriel and how he’ll develop – it’s no exaggeration to say it’s a life-changer.”

Drew added: “Before the operation Gabriel’s future looked pretty grim. His legs were becoming worse and worse and he would have ended up in a wheelchair. He’s still got a long way to go – and the physiotherapy will be gruelling – but now he has a chance for real independence. All being well, he’ll be able to run around and play with his triplet brothers before we know it.

“Since we launched the campaign a few months ago we have been completely humbled by people’s generosity and kindness. We will never be able to thank them enough – every single one of them has made a huge difference to our little boy’s life and have given him a future which didn’t seem possible.”

Incredibly two days after Gabriel’s operation the Government announced it will actually begin funding SDR operations, however Gabriel’s family will still have to pay.