Girl with cerebral palsy gets life-changing surgery

Girl with cerebral palsy gets life-changing surgery

Life-changing surgery has given a young Canterbury girl the chance to walk unaided for the first time despite her cerebral palsy.

Four-year-old Savannah Clarke also has a message for the world.

Donations sent the pre-schooler to the US for life-changing surgery and, back home after the long trip, she can walk unaided for the first time.

"She'll just get better and better, and she can be as normal as any other child," says mother Nicola Clark.

Savannah has spastic diplegia, a condition which changes how her leg muscles work.

Her family fundraised $80,000 for a trip to St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri, where a specialist detached certain nerves from her spinal cord.

"The outcome we saw was pretty much the next day, when she'd never been able to wiggle her toes on her right foot and she wiggled her toes," says Ms Clark.

The operation helped to ease tightness in her feet and, with a few weeks of therapy, she had a spring in her step.

The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) treatment is controversial as the changes are permanent and require ongoing treatment.

Savannah wears a leg brace and will need therapy four or five times a week at home, but she's not one to back off from a challenge.

"Savannah's so determined; she wants to do the best. If she gets told to do something, she'll do it. There's no arguing with it," says Ms Clark.

There's a long road ahead, but with the right amount of therapy and a bit of hard work, she'll be just like any other little girl.

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