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The future looks brighter for Layla James

A schoolgirl is looking forward to a brighter future following surgery to correct the effects of cerebral palsy.

Layla James has always longed to keep up with her friends and siblings and thanks to a life-changing operation she is well on her way to doing just that.

The seven-year-old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was nine months old.

Lydia Neale, Maci Nelson (one) Layla James (seven) and Marley Nelson (four)
Lydia Neale, Maci Nelson (one) Layla James (seven) and Marley Nelson (four)

She has been forced to wear splints during the day and gators at night and has often relied on a wheelchair because walking was painful.

Her family launched a £25,000 fundraising appeal in the summer to pay for surgery but were later thrilled to learn the NHS has changed its criteria and she could have the operation for free.

Layla travelled to Nottingham last Thursday and had the operation on Friday. She took her first steps the following day.

Proud mum Lydia Neale said: “She is amazed that the surgeon has given her new legs. She’s already showing signs that she will be absolutely fine because she is so determined.

“She won’t be at school for a couple of months but has already told her friends she’ll be winning the races at sports day next year.”

The selective dorsal rhizotomy operation works by dividing muscles which run from the spinal chord to reduce spasticity in the legs.

Layla was in surgery for about five hours.

Layla James has had life-changing surgery on her legs
Layla James has had life-changing surgery on her legs

Lydia said: “It was horrific waiting for her but it went brilliantly and there were no complications.

“I couldn’t quite believe the day had finally come after years of wanting this and thinking it would only ever be a dream.

“I wish I could explain the feeling I experienced holding her legs. They felt like brand new legs, floppy not stiff, and the moment I felt them I burst into tears.”

Layla returned to her home in Pentland Court, Oakham, on Sunday where she was greeted by her siblings Lucas, Marley and Maci.

She has started physiotherapy which she will need several times a week. She also needs a standing frame to help strengthen her muscles.

The physiotherapy isn’t covered by NHS funding so the £15,000 raised from the appeal will help to pay for this.

The fund had a significant boost thanks to comedian Jason Manford who called on his followers to each donate a small amount as part of his charity ninjas campaign.

Layla will also need another operation next year because her Achilles tendon is still too tight.

It could take up to two years for her to make a full recovery but she is ready for the challenge and looking forward to rejoining her classmates at Catmose Primary early next year.

Lydia, 26, said: “My daughter is the most amazing little girl. She is strong, independent and let’s nothing stand in her way.

“I want nothing more for her than to be happy and this is something she and I both wanted to better her chances in the future. “

Speaking at the start of their fundraising appeal Layla said: “The best thing will be doing flips on the monkey bars with my friends.”

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