THE parents of a five-year-old who were told he would never walk are launching another fundraising drive to help pay for crucial physiotherapy.
Just weeks ago he took his first steps unaided, following a life-changing operation in America, and has been making his way around using crutches ever since.
His mum Sandra said: “They [the doctors] can’t believe how well he’s doing.
“Before the operation Jay’s legs were really tight, it was like lifting a weight, but now he can lift them no problem.”
The Lawfield Primary pupil, who lives in Mayfield, Midlothian, has cerebral palsy and was wheelchair-bound until the “miracle” operation in St Louis, Missouri, in October which was assisted by a £44,000 fundraising effort by family and friends.
His rapid progress following the surgery has astounded medical experts and his parents, Sandra, 26, and Paul, 27, who works as a pizza chef.
Instead of using a walking frame to build up his strength, Jay has opted for crutches. And just four weeks ago, despite doctors warning it may be up to a year before he could walk completely unaided, he took three tentative steps – without crutches – across his living room.
Mrs Johnson, a full-time mum, said: “It took him ages to get his balance but eventually he took three independent steps without any aids.
“It was amazing; we never, ever thought we would see it. He kept saying, ‘I can walk like my brother’, he was really excited. Now he keeps trying to do it all the time. He can still do three steps but he’s not getting past that yet.”
The Johnson family, including Jay’s younger brother Rory, three, managed to raise £44,000 in seven months to pay for Jay’s treatment, which is not widely available on the NHS.
Although surgical procedures are complete, the family will return to St Louis in October for Jay’s check-up.
They plan to start fundraising again next month to help pay for their flights, as well as Jay’s private physiotherapy treatment, which he requires five times a week, and twice-weekly swimming lessons.
Together the physiotherapy and swimming lessons cost around £100 per week, and the family hope to raise around £4000 in total.
Mrs Johnson, who thanked everyone who has supported Jay, said doctors in America were “over the moon” with his progress. She now believes her son, who has set his sights on a bike, could be walking unaided by the summer.
Following the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation – a technique used to treat spasticity in the lower limbs – Jay spent three days, including his fifth birthday, in intensive care.
He then had a second operation on his heel cords and hamstrings before starting an intensive three-week course of physiotherapy.
Anyone wishing to help Jay can donate to an account at the Royal Bank of Scotland with the sort code 83-17-26 and account number 00686773.