WATCH: Incredible footage shows Jacob Baird, 3, taking his first steps after life-changing surgery
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 January 2017
The parents of a boy from Weston-super-Mare with cerebral palsy have described a surgeon who enabled him to walk for the first time as a 'miracle worker'.
A premature birth and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy left Jacob Baird unable to walk, with his only hope coming from an operation known as a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), which is not available on the NHS.
Jacob’s family called on the people of Weston to help them raise £75,000 for the surgery – and the three-year-old has now taken his first steps after that target was smashed and his operation was successfully completed in the United States last month.
Jacob’s mum, Nikki Baird, told the Mercury he also underwent a second procedure during his stay at the St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, called a partial ventral rhizotomy, which helped to remove spasticity in more of his leg muscles.
He will now undergo years of physiotherapy at home in Weston, where it is expected he will eventually be able to walk independently after progressing from a walker to crutches and then sticks.
Nikki said: “Jacob is doing great. He’s beginning to get his confidence back and trying to walk independently with his walking frame, which is something he’d never done before.
“His legs are now lovely and relaxed, instead of being as stiff as a board.”
Jacob’s family set up a Facebook page and JustGiving account called Jacob’s Journey in order to raise the money needed for his operation.
Nikki, of Chelswood Avenue, thanked the town for its support and said: “None of this would be possible without all the amazing people who have donated, helped at events and given wonderful words of encouragement – we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
“Every person has helped change Jacob’s life – without an SDR, Jacob would spend his life in a wheelchair.”
Jacob is now undergoing regular physiotherapy at his home and will have to perform muscle stretches for the rest of his life.
However, his surgeon Dr TS Park predicted Jacob will be eventually able to walk independently and Nikki said her family could not thank Dr Park enough for his ‘pioneering’ work.
Nikki said: “How can you thank someone for giving your son the chance to be like all his little friends?
“Dr Park is a true miracle worker. He pioneered this surgery and has changed the lives of more than 3,000 children.
“We cannot thank him enough – there really are no words.”