THE FAMILY of a Newport toddler who raised £70,000 to fly him to America for a life changing operation have vowed to keep on fundraising to help him walk.
Little Leo Dixon, three, was born six weeks early and could not walk, crawl or sit comfortably. In February 2012, Leo underwent a series of tests and was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic diplegia.
But parents Kate, 29, and Mike Dixon, 37, were determined to give Leo the best possible start in life, and through hard work and organising many fundraising events they raised £70,000 to fly Leo to St Louis, Missouri, for the life-changing Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation.
SDR aims to achieve a long-term reduction in spasticity, improve function and mobility, increase independence and increase range of motion and improve positioning.
The family flew to America on November 9 last year and Leo underwent the two-and-a-half-hour operation on November 14. While in America, they discovered Leo was suffering from double vision and also had surgery to correct it. He then had daily physiotherapy for two weeks before they returned to Newport on December 15.
Since the operation, Mrs Dixon says she has noticed massive changes in Leo, including improved posture, strength and he can now maintain eye contact.
She said: “He is a lot looser, the tightness has gone and he can control his body a lot better. His posture is 100 per cent better and he just looks so much more comfortable – the spasticity is gone. He’s had a growth spurt too, which is apparently quite common after the operation. Now we are working on muscles he has never used before.”
Leo’s parents are hoping to get him on his walker by April, and are planning on building a wet room, home gym and therapy room to keep up his progress – but it all costs money.
Mrs Dixon added: “The eye surgery took a big chunk out of our funds, but we were told for him to walk, his eyesight needs to be pretty much perfect.
“We are trying to keep up all his physio so he can progress, but of course it all costs money. He currently undergoes physio twice a week, strengthening and conditioning twice a week, home exercises and horse riding.
“Although we raised around £70,000, not all of the money came through, so it can be a struggle and I constantly worry we won’t be able to keep it up.
“We will be looking at starting up fundraising again in the next couple of months.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/Helpleowalk1