Family takes steps towards £58k operation for their son to walk properly

thisisoxfordshire: Basketball fan Gabriel Masih-Gill and his mum Paula Buy this photo » Basketball fan Gabriel Masih-Gill and his mum Paula

TWO years ago, Paula Masih-Gill was flicking through the pages of a Take a Break magazine when she read a feature that made her heart race.

Inside the pages of the women’s mag was a piece about selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), a complex neurosurgical technique for children with cerebral palsy.

Mrs Masih-Gill, of Stowford Road, Headington, knew her son Gabriel, 13, would benefit from the procedure, but realised it might not be available on the NHS.

Now, following further research, she is raising funds so that Gabriel can have the operation which could cost £58,000 at a hospital in Missouri, US.

Mrs Masih-Gill says the procedure would allow Gabriel, who has cerebral palsy, to walk properly for the first time.

The mum, who lives with Gabriel, husband Samuel, 42, and Gabriel’s brother Lucien, three, is now working with the Tree of Hope charity to raise the funds.

She said Gabriel is “a great lad, very sociable and academic and plays basketball in his wheelchair.

“He can walk a few steps, but the operation in the States would change his life.”

Mrs Masih-Gill said her son – a pupil at the Ormerod Resource base at Woodstock’s Marlborough School – has already had major operations on his hips and knees at Oxford Children’s Hospital.

She said: “They do the operation in the UK, but the procedure is slightly different and we have been told that Gabriel is too weak at the moment to have it.

“He is travelling to Scotland so that his muscles can be worked on to make them stronger, so he will be ready for the operation.”

She said the operation is different in the UK and can be done privately, but not on the NHS.

She added: “In the US they have specialist physio pre and post op. So if children are too weak, the physio gets them ready for the operation.

“There is no success rate in the UK, they have not long been doing it.

“In America they have been doing it for 30 years and the success rate is 100 per cent.”

Gabriel said: “I’m cheesed off having this disability – I really want this operation.”

The family raised £900 with Gabriel’s Red Fun Walk on Saturday, September 7, which finished at The George in Littlemore where Mr Masih-Gill, a former chef, cooked food for the walkers.

Jeremy Marris, chief executive of Tree of Hope, said: “The Tree of Hope is delighted that their fundraising has been so successful and Gabriel will get the operations he needs.”

Mrs Masih-Gill and a group of five others are skydiving on Saturday, October 5 to raise money.

Donations can be made at http://www.justgiving.com/Paula-Masih-Gill1 or text XXTW48 then the amount to 70070.

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