Community rally to fund life-changing surgery

Eight-year-old Jay Johnson, pictured at Lawfield Primary School, Midlothian. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Eight-year-old Jay Johnson, pictured at Lawfield Primary School, Midlothian. Pic: Ian Rutherford
0
Have your say

A WHEELCHAIR-bound child is on the brink of receiving a second bout of life-changing surgery in the United States after raising £13,000 in three months.

Jay Johnson, eight, was born with cerebral palsy but defied doctors by learning to walk, and even play football, after a miracle operation three years ago.

But his condition has since deteriorated, with the Lawfield Primary Pupil expected to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life unless he again goes under the knife.

His family and the Mayfield community have railled to raise thousands towards the ­procedure that will see doctors lengthen the tendons in his heels to prevent his feet turning the wrong way and prohibiting movement.

But now parents Sandra and Paul are appealing for a last- minute push to help raise the £15,000 required to send him to the states.

The pioneering surgery in the US is expected to reduce the spasticity in Jay’s legs.

It is the second time the youngster will make the journey after the community ­donated a whopping £40,000 for surgery in 2012.

And within weeks Jay became an inspiration when he took his first steps.

Earlier this year, the youngster had been playing football once a month but mum ­Sandra began noticing her son’s ­balance was beginning to waver and feared the worst. After ­e-mailing videos of Jay’s movements to the doctors who treated him in St Louis, Missouri, Sandra’s fears were confirmed.

She said: “I was absolutely heartbroken.

“We had initially hoped the first surgery would be enough, but throughout the year he’s been regressing.

“He can’t balance or stand up on his own any more – and if we don’t do something soon, he won’t be able to walk, either.

“Jay is so positive, and he’s taking it in his stride. But I ­really am terrified.”

According to specialists, Jay has begun to experience ­setbacks because he has grown so much taller since receiving the life-changing treatment in 2011.

As a result of that growth, his heel chords are now stretched to near-breaking point. The Johnsons are already hoping to return to the St Louis ­Children’s Hospital in April in a bid to mend his legs – but if they don’t hand in the money for the surgery by the end of March, Jay won’t be allowed the procedure.

Mum Sandra, a cleaner at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said: “Jay’s come so far. But now, he can hardly stand. If he doesn’t receive this surgery, he’ll be back in his wheelchair.

“We’re so close, but we just need a little bit of help to help bridge that gap. It would mean everything to him.”

Children’s entertainment company Krazee Capers, ­already answered the call to help fund Jay’s surgery by hosting a Disney Frozen-themed disco in December. All 150 tickets sold out within days.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com