Early Christmas present for girl with cerebral palsy as she takes her first steps

A brave six-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has been able to take her first steps just before Christmas, after her family’s fundraising efforts enabled her to have the operation she desperately needed to be able to walk.

Ellice Barr was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at just 22 months old after sustaining a brain injury at birth.

Young Ellice has been unable to walk for her whole life, and unfortunately an operation to solve this is not available on the NHS.

The situation led to the family setting up a fundraising page, where 350 kind-hearted strangers donated enough money to fund Ellice through this crucial operation.

Ellice’s family said: “We have just been overwhelmed with people’s kindness in helping to raise the money to help Ellice walk.

“To see her standing on her own two feet without any help is just the most amazing sight in the world. It is the best Christmas present for her we could ever have wished for.”

The first five years of the young girl’s life were spent using a walking frame and a wheelchair.

However, Ellice’s parents heard about the selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery, which can help children with cerebral palsy to walk. The six-hour operation involves cutting the nerves in the lower spine responsible for making the muscles become rigid.

Ellice’s father, Mr Barr, said: “We set up a fundraising page for Ellice in November last year and donations started to come in. All these people were willing to help her achieve her dream.”

The Barr family hit their target of £65,000, meaning they could pay for the operation and months of physiotherapy afterwards.

Mr Barr said: “It was difficult at first because she is having to use muscles to walk that she has never used before. But she is doing fantastically well. For the first four months she started to walk using sticks to help with balance but a few weeks ago she started to walk without them.”

Next year, Ellice is due to have an operation to lengthen her calf muscles, which surgeons have said will help her recovery even more.

Mr Barr added: “We are so proud of what Ellice has achieved, and to see her walk now is the best present any of us could have asked for. We are going to have a lovely Christmas this year.”