A family are hoping to raise £60,000 to get life-changing surgery for their young son.
Surgeons at a pioneering clinic in St Louis, Missouri, have accepted two-year-old Derek Russell, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to undergo a groundbreaking operation to enable him to walk.
Specialists in the US have already performed similar operations which have meant the likes of North East children Archie Anderson, Callum Brown, Ben Elliott and Lily Gordon have all been given the gift of mobility.
And now Derek has been given similar hope which would allow him to play with triplet brother Daniel and sister Terri.
His mother Michelle, 34 and father Derek, 39, from Barmston, Washington, were told Derek’s only hope was to travel to America to undergo the selective dorsal rhizotomy, a procedure which can transform lives.
The family, which includes brothers and sisters John, 16, Rebecca, 13, Anthony, 12 and Joseph aged nine, have set themselves a target of raising £60,000 in 12 months to pay for the treatment not available on the NHS.
Michelle, said: “It is very frustrating for him not to be able to join in with his brothers and sisters. But he is amazing and he just tries to have fun in his own way all the same.
“I get so upset when I see him not being able to join in and at night he can have painful spasms. But he gives me a cheeky grin and that cheers me up.”
The news they were expecting triplets came as a major shock to Michelle and Derek, as they already had their hands full with four children and had not intended to have any more.
Then when the children were born on July 14 2011 at 29 weeks all weighing just 2lbs 8oz, their lives hung in the balance for over a month, until they were then given the all clear to come home.
The trio appeared to be thriving, until they reached around 12 months and Michelle’s mother’s instinct told her something wasn’t right with Derek.
“Daniel and Terri could sit and crawl, but Derek couldn’t,” she explained. “Everyone kept telling me he would catch up, but he didn’t. Then in September last year we were told he had cerebral palsy and our lives changed forever.”
The family had heard of the potentially life-changing surgery performed in St Louis and submitted an application on behalf of Derek.
Archie, six, from Ashington, Callum, eight, from Seaton Sluice, Ben, seven, from Forest Hall, and Lily, also seven, from North Shields have all travelled to the US state for the surgery.
Then last week after months and months of waiting Derek’s family finally received confirmation that he had been accepted. “We could not be any happier right now,” said Michelle.
“These past few months have been so hard we are just so glad that chapter has finished and a new chapter is about to start.”
To help Derek on his journey to walk visit http://www.justgiving.com/Michelle-Russell8