Earby boy (6) ready to take first steps after op in USA

Robin Carter takes his steps of physio at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri, USA.
Robin Carter takes his steps of physio at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri, USA.

EARBY youngster Robin Carter has begun an intensive course of physiotherapy after undergoing major surgery.

Robin (6), who is being treated at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA, is preparing to take his first ever unaided steps after the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation.

His journey to the USA with mum Natalie has been made possible by the generosity of the many family, friends and complete strangers around West Craven and beyond who raised the £45,000 needed to get him there.

Fund-raising efforts are still going on to help cover the cost of the 12 months of physiotherapy Robin will complete when he returns to the UK next month.

From birth, Robin, a pupil at Roughlee Primary School, has suffered from a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia, which causes tightening in the lower body. He has had to walk using special leg braces and a frame, or a wheelchair.

He was also undergoing painful physiotherapy sessions every morning and night to stretch out the effect of the tightening.

Spastic diplegia is the most common form of cerebral palsy but the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation is not offered on the NHS in this country so many families are left with no choice but to raise the money themselves for treatment in the USA.

Robin’s operation involved surgeons cutting the nerve-endings in his spine causing the tightening.

Natalie said Robin has been in a lot of pain since the operation but is very determined.

She said: “The main difference in Robin is of course his legs and one of the first things he said to me in intensive care was ‘Mummy my legs are all loose now’, which is just what we wanted.

“But now it’s the long road to building his strength up in his legs and teaching him to walk again. It is amazing how quickly they start to improve but he’s very weak after the operation and still in some pain which is very hard to watch.

“Saying that, he’s been on the treadmill today and yesterday and done brilliantly. When he now takes a step his foot goes down flat and he’s not just walking on his toes.

“Tomorrow he’s going to try some steps on his own.”

Robin has also been examined this week to see if he needs an operation to lengthen his heel cords and hamstrings. If he does, this will take place on Monday.

Natalie said the time away from their family, especially her other son Vaughn (13) and daughter Chloe (10) has been difficult.

“It is very hard being here having to leave them at home and there have been some very tough days when we could really do with a familiar face. But we’re skyping everyone all the time and counting down the days until we’re home.”

Natalie and Robin have also had to endure the frightening experience of being close to the devastating tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, at the weekend.

Back home, efforts continue to fund-raise. A night at Mario’s restaurant in Gisburn Road, Barnoldswick, raised £1,560, for which the Carter family thanked Mario De Santis and his family for their generosity, support and hard work. The prizes for the night’s raffle had also been donated by De Santis and Sons mini market in Gisburn Road.

Another contribution of £1,000 came from family friends, the Charnleys.

Natalie and Robin return to Earby on June 13th when Robin will carry on with his physiotherapy sessions.

Natalie said: “He will more or less have to learn how to walk again because he has never been able to use the muscles we all use properly.

“He needs to build up the strength in them because they are so weak.”

“But each day he gets stronger and it will be great to see everyone again and to see just how far Robin’s come on.

“This has been the best thing we could have done for Robin and he is so excited about running into the playground with no walking frame to play football.”

For more information on Robin’s campaign and how to help, visit http://robinsdreams.weebly.com