GWENT parents came face to face with the American surgeon who changed their children’s lives at an event tonight.
Families from Gwent have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for surgery, with many travelling to America, to give their children, who have cerebral palsy, the chance to walk.
Tonight provided an opportunity for parents to meet the surgeon, DR TS Park, who travelled from St Louis, to meet them at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff.
Dr Park practices Selective Dorsal Rhizotomoy (SDR), a technique developed in St Louis, which involves cutting some sensory nerves that carry information from the leg muscles, with the aim of reducing spasticity to improve mobility.
Dr Park said: "it's wonderful to be able to improve their quality of life.
"I'm grateful for the gratitude from the parents as it's the first time that I have come to Wales and seen them since their child's procedure.
"I remember almost all of them and the children have improved greatly.
"We start the ball rolling for them and they continue to improve when they come back to the UK."
Katherine Lippiett attended with her son, Bayli, who underwent the procedure in St Louis in June, after she raised £60,000.
She said: “It’s so emotional and I couldn’t wait to thank the man who changed my son’s life.”
Previously, Bayli, of Fleur-de-Lys, couldn’t balance or sit up and had to use a walker.
Now Mrs Lippiett describes his progress as ‘amazing’.
She said: “He is so independent as he doesn’t need the walker. The operation really has changed his life.”
Brecon Vaughan, six, and his family were at the event, after they raised £60,000, for his operation in America in October.
The youngster, from Mathern, suffered with stiffness in his legs, poor balance and co-ordination.
Brecon's father, Rob, said: "It’s the first time we have seen the surgeon since we left American and we wanted him to see Brecon’s progress as he has improved greatly.”
Leo Dixon, 3, from Newport, underwent the two-and-a-half-hour operation on November 14, after his parents, Kate and Mike, raised £70,000, so he could fly to America.
Mrs Dixon says she’s noticed massive changes in Leo, including improved posture and strength.
Also attending was Monmouth’s Chase Vaughan, seven, who last year took her first steps after undergoing surgery, as the condition forced her to walk on her toes.
Her mum, Helen Morgan, raised £40,000 to fund the procedure at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, which is not available on the NHS.
But Miss Morgan wanted to meet the surgeon who is pioneering the procedure.
Campaigners Support4SDR arranged the event and are pressing for funding to be provided in Wales so that children can benefit from the operation here.