A SEVEN-year-old boy whose parents were told he would spend his life in a wheelchair is now playing football with his friends.
Jay Johnson, who lives in Mayfield, has cerebral palsy and was unable to walk until a miracle operation in the US two years ago.
The Lawfield Primary pupil has defied doctors and is now able to walk with sticks and even plays football once a month to the delight of mum Sandra, 27, who said he is “making incredible progress every day”.
“He’s doing brilliantly,” she added. “He’s walking with crutches everywhere. Everybody who knows him can see the difference in him now, he’s made such progress. It’s lovely to watch.
“He’s just enjoying life at the moment, which is brilliant.”
The brave lad had to undergo an operation known as a selective dorsal rhizotomy to treat spasticity in his legs. It was carried out at a leading world centre in St Louis, Missouri that specialises in that type of complex surgery.
Jay spent three days, including his fifth birthday, in intensive care. He then had to undergo a second operation on his heel cords and hamstrings before he was released from hospital to start a gruelling physiotherapy programme.
The youngster is still having three sessions of physio a week and now the family are looking to raise £5000 to send him to a specialist rehabilitation centre in Slovakia to help further.He will spend two weeks at the world-renowned centre to improve his independence.
The family, including dad Paul and brother Rory, five, are doing sponsored bag packing in supermarkets ahead of the planned trip in April.
“We just want him to progress as much as he can and this place is internationally known for its rehabilitation programmes,” said his mum. “It has all the specialist equipment.”
NHS doctors said – without his surgery – he would never walk, spurring the family to pull together to defy them.
Proud Sandra said “he loves doing things he couldn’t do before, such as playing football”, adding: “Seeing his progress makes it so much easier to deal with. He’s always happy, excited and loves running and trying to get fit.”