Operation gives Midlothian youngster chance for new lease of life

Lisa Paris receives a cheque from Loanhead After School Club. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Lisa Paris receives a cheque from Loanhead After School Club. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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A TEN-year-old girl is set to undergo an eight-hour operation after being left housebound by a rare neurological condition.

Leila Paris, from Loanhead, was diagnosed last year with Generalised Dystonia, where signals from her brain cause her body to suffer severe spasms.

Within six months Leila was left using a wheelchair, but now finds that too uncomfortable.

The Loanhead Primary School pupil has been undergoing tests at the Evalina Children’s Hospital and King’s College in London with a view to undergoing the marathon operation, which it is hoped will give her a new lease of life.

It is expected the operation will be performed before the end of the year.

Leila will be in hospital in London for ten days, after which it is hoped she will show a 60-90 per cent improvement and not have to rely so much on daily medication.

Dad Iain said: “The surgeon will have CT scans so he can see what area of the brain has been affected.

“He will insert two very fine probes in through the skull.

“Once they are in the right area it is simply a case of attaching the electrodes to a wire feed under the skin, down her neck and down the side of her ribs.”

The wiring will be connected to a tiny pacemaker by her ribs, which will send signals to the probes.

The cause of the dystonia is unknown and is rare to be the primary condition and not brought about by an earlier trauma.

It usually manifests itself in children Leila’s age. Dystonia has genetic links to Parkinson’s.

Iain added: “It just came out of the blue.

“Two days before she had been at the climbing wall at Ratho. She was always playing or on her bike or swimming.

“She has been pretty resilient. One morning last week, the occupational therapist was in and Leila was laughing and joking and telling her stories. She still manages to smile.

“It has been challenging for her, especially getting in the wheelchair to go to school.

“It has been a huge step, a huge step for her.”

While the NHS will meet the travel costs, Loanhead After School Club has raised £1000 to meet the Paris family’s living costs while in London for the operation.

The club held a special Fun Day which included a sponsored walk and teddy bears’ picnic.

Mum Lisa said: “I want to say a huge thanks to the community and the after school club for making this happen. We are truly blown away.

“Leila started crying when I first told her about it.”

Around 8000 children in the UK have dystonia.