THE family of a young boy who suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot walk unaided say they have received the best Christmas present of all after he was accepted for surgery in a specialist US hospital.
Jack Holmes (4), from Crossmolina, Co Mayo, can only walk with the aid of a walker and splints. His parents were told that as he got older he would no longer be able to carry his own weight and would be confined to a wheelchair.
The family were over the moon when they received word that Jack had been accepted for surgery in February.
"This will change his life. Jack realises that he can't do things even his two-year-old cousin can. When they play she gets down on the ground with him because she thinks it's a game," said his mum Karen.
"It affects him in a hundred different ways, this will allow him to become more independent and that's all we want."
The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation involves cutting the nerves at the base of Jack's spine that cause the abnormal tone in his legs. This will permanently reduce the spasticity in Jack's lower limbs, improving his sitting and standing postures significantly.
He must then undergo a second orthopaedic operation two weeks later to help him control his muscles.
Jack and his parents will spend five weeks in the States, one week before the operation and four weeks' recovery time. He will then be sent home with a two-year rehabilitation programme to follow.
The family are now fundraising for the €50,000 needed for the operation.
"If he is confined to a wheelchair, it will determine what he can do for the rest of his life. This operation can change all that," said Karen.
A special bank account, Jack's Wish to Walk, has been established at Bank Of Ireland. The account number is: 97415228, sort code 90-52-72.