THE final step to independence beckons for a cerebral palsy campaigner who has been given the go-ahead to become one of the oldest people in the UK to undergo a life-changing operation.
Laura Ramsden, aged 34, has battled for the right to irreversible neurosurgery which is usually only offered to children.
After the operation, Laura, of Bowker Street, Radcliffe, will be pain-free for the first time, and should be able to walk unassisted.
The complex and risky procedure — Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) — reduces tight muscle tone, known as spasticity, in the lower limbs by cutting nerves and has an upper age limit of between 35 and 40.
It is only available in a handful of hospitals in the UK, but last week Laura received confirmation she will go have the surgery at the Walton Centre of Excellence in Liverpool this June.
The victory marks the end of her two-year wait to be granted the procedure, which has seen her overcome numerous setbacks.
The day before she was told the good news she found out other patients at the same hospital had had their funding reversed and earlier this year she was temporarily taken off the hospital’s surgery list.
Laura said: “I wasn’t even going to go to my appointment at the hospital because I was expecting to be declined, and I thought after two years of waiting I couldn’t go there and hear it wasn’t going to happen.
“So now I am happy I am finally set to have the operation. My name is in the diary, but I won’t believe it until it happens. It still doesn’t seem true.
“SDR is no miracle — you get what you put in. But everyone who knows me knows I play to win.”
Laura is now fundraising to pay for neuro physiotherapy, a £70-an-hour aftercare treatment which is not available on the NHS due to being classed as maintenance.
In the UK, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance demonstrating that SDR is most effective for children aged between four and 10, meaning many sufferers are not granted funding.
In America, doctors perform the surgery on younger children, and some British families raise thousands of pounds to send their children abroad for the procedure.
Laura added: “I am hoping if I show how well I can do as an adult with cerebral palsy, it will open up doors for other disabled adults to pursue SDR as an avenue.”
On Saturday Laura held a celebratory disco at the St Philip’s Community Centre in Higher Dean Street, Radcliffe which raised £230 and included a performance by circus entertainers Custard Storm.
She will run a table at the Radcliffe Carnival on June 7 and is hosting an afternoon tea and fun day at the St Philip’s Centre on July 5.
To make a donation: go to youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/laura-s-wish-fundraising-and-sdr-fund-2013-14/121155 and for more information search Laura’s Wish on Facebook.