An appeal has been launched in New Mills to raise £16,000 for an operation that would transform the life of a six-year-old boy debilitated by cerebral palsy.
Lucas Stafford is described by his parents as “very happy”. But he is confined to a wheelchair and must still wear nappies because he has no control over his or body movements.
His condition, which affects all four limbs, is getting worse. He is in constant pain, on medication three times a day and struggles with the simplest of tasks, such as brushing his teeth.
“And when he asks why he can’t walk, like everyone else, it just breaks our hearts,” says dad Steven, 33.
But now help is on the horizon. NHS surgeons have told Steven and wife Susan, of St George’s Road, that an operation would have an immediate effect and “make Lucas comfortable for once in his life”.
“The stiffness in his arms and legs would go completely, and we would be able to train him to go to the toilet,” says Susan, 33. “There would also be a 50/50 chance of him walking with the help of an aid, such as sticks or a type of Zimmer frame.
“We cannot waste this opportunity because Lucas has never taken a step in his life. His disability would still be there, but life would be much easier. He would be able to get himself dressed and join in with things. He would be a lot more independent.”
The snag is that the NHS will only fund the operation if the Staffords themselves cough up £16,000 towards the cost. But since launching a fundraising drive, the response has been phenomenal.
“The people here in New Mills have been absolutely amazing,” says Susan. “We have been overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.”
A donations page at the gofundme website raised more than £1,100 inside the first two days. Friends have helped rally round local businesses and organise leaflet drops. And a sponsored walk has been set up for next Monday (October 24), involving friends at Lucas’s school, St George’s Primary, most notably his best mate, six-year-old Macaulay Nicholls.
Susan is full of praise for the way the school has adapted to accommodate Lucas, including the provision of one-on-one teaching, and she cannot thank enough family members, particularly grandparents, for their help and support.
It’s all a far cry from the day Lucas, as a 14-month-old boy, was diagnosed with spastic quadraplegic cerebral palsy. “It was just devastating,” she recalls. “The whole family was so shocked, and we had to completely change our lives to revolve around Lucas’s needs.”
He still suffers from convulsions, one of which four years ago left him in an induced coma, and severe cramps at night. But now, at last, there is hope, and a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.