�60,000 appeal to help West Hampstead twin take his very first step
The determined mother of a six-year-old boy with cerebral palsy says her only wish is to see him walk - as she embarks on a �60,000 fundraising campaign to pay for a groundbreaking operation.
Identical twin Jack Smart has been left reliant on a wheelchair or his walking frame to get about after he was diagnosed with the neurological disease at seven-months-old.
After years of physiotherapy, which doctors say can ease Jack’s symptoms but holds little chance of enabling him to walk, his family discovered a pioneering operation which could allow him to walk.
His mother, Angela Smart, a childminder who lives in Beswick Mews, West Hampstead, said: “For me, to see my son be able to walk would be incredible.
“Jack thinks perfectly normally and he knows he is different. I tell him he is special and that when he walks he will be more special.”
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She added: “It is heartbreaking to see when the other kids go off to play football, and he is stuck and can’t follow.
“He wants to be able to join in with his brother and kick him up the bum apparently. But he can’t.”
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Jack was born six weeks prematurely, but it was his identical twin Ben doctors were initially most concerned about as he weighed just two pounds 11 ounces.
Several months later doctors diagnosed Jack with cerebral palsy, which he developed in the womb.
His family were told about the new operation by a friend, but despite pleading with NHS doctors to consider Jack for the treatment they were told he was not a priority case.
As well as wanting to transform Jack’s quality of life, his family want to raise awareness of the life-changing operation so that other cerebral palsy sufferers can access it.
Jack’s grandmother Janis Smart said: “I feel a bit let down by the NHS because of the lack of help. I felt no one was supporting us so we had to go out on our own and do it.
“We are not the only ones in this situation – hundreds of other people have the same problem with the NHS.
“They are extremely reluctant to recommend it, but it has the power to change lives.”
The six-year-old, who goes to Beckford Primary School, has been accepted for the surgery by its American pioneer, Dr Parks at St. Louis’ Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
But his family must raise around �60,000 to pay for the operation.
They have so far raised nearly �1,500, but are relying on public generosity to reach the full amount.
Residents are asked to donate at www.jacks-hope.co.uk