Brooke Lawrance walks into school after US operation

  • 8 January 2013
  • From the section Suffolk
Brooke Lawrence walking into school
Image caption Brooke walked into school for the first time on Tuesday

A seven-year-old girl has walked into school for the first time after being told by doctors she would spend her life in a wheelchair.

Brooke Lawrance, from Ipswich, who has cerebral palsy, underwent five hours of life-changing spinal surgery in America last November.

"It was the longest five hours of my life," said mother Sarah Lawrance.

She added: "To see her walk into school was amazing." The treatment, paid for by donations, cost about £65,000.

Brooke was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged two-and-a-half and has spent most of her life in a wheelchair.

Her ability to walk has been achieved through extensive physiotherapy and Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, developed by Dr Park, paediatric neurosurgeon at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri.

The operation concentrates on the lower part of the spinal cord.

Ms Lawrance said: "We found out about SDR two years ago.

"We emailed Dr Park X-rays and film footage of Brooke for him to examine and he replied saying that he felt with an operation Brooke had every opportunity of walking.

"We were put in this room during the operation and they'd phone us to keep us updated - it was the longest five hours of my life.

"He took parts from the bottom of the spine out and tested all the nerves. The ones that don't send the right signals he removes.

Media captionThe family was told Brooke Lawrance would never walk

'A good day'

"To be told when she was two-and-a-half she'd be in a wheelchair for her life and then to see her walk into school today was amazing."

Speaking after her big day back at school, cheered on through her arrival by her friends, Brooke said it had been "a good day".

She added: "I got to play with my friends and we had music, which was great.

"It felt good because I've never been on my feet so much, but my legs are a bit tired."

Brooke now has to build her strength up, helped by a specialist physiotherapist.

Ms Lawrance said: "We go to Scotland to see a guy who works with SCR children.

"It costs about £2,500 each trip, it's a nine hour drive each time and we've got to go three times this year so there's still a lot more more to raise to pay for her care."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites