This is the touching moment a youngster took her first steps – after a crowdfunding campaign raised 80K for an operation to allow her to walk.
The parents of Esme Hodge, three, filmed the moment she independently walked following the life-changing surgery.
‘Ezzy’ was born three months premature weighing just 3lb and doctors had to wrap her in a sandwich bag and put her in an incubator to keep her alive.
Mum Angela and dad Matthew soon realised she was not developing the same as other children and was not using her left side.
Ezzy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of brain damage incurred from her traumatic birth – meaning she could not walk or even stand independently.
Angela and Matt were told she would not walk without the specialist £80,000 surgery, which would loosen the tightness in Ezzy’s muscles to allow her to move freely.
They launched a fundraising page ezzyswishtowalk and Angela was overwhelmed when the whopping £80,000 sum was raised in less than ten months.
The determined youngster took her first unaided steps just three weeks after an op at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
Now, excited Ezzy’s goal is to walk by herself into class when she starts school next September.
Mum-of-three Angela Hodge, 40, from Thornbury, Bristol, said: “The first thing Ezzy said when she woke up from the operation was ‘mummy I’ve found my legs’.
“It was an incredible moment to see her take those first steps. We were just so overwhelmed at how quickly she had responded to the surgery.
“The surgeon now says within a year they expect Ezzy to be running around. It’s been a massive community effort to raise the money.
“We have been so touched by the support and kindness of the people around us and also of complete strangers who just want to help Ezzy.”
Ezzy spent her first six weeks in Neonatal Intensive Care at Southmead Hospital in Bristol before her parents were finally allowed to take her home.
The operation involved removing a small piece at the bottom of the spine to reveal the nerve endings.
This allows the brain to communicate properly with the body, removing the spasticity and enabling the child to walk.
The specialist surgery is not usually performed on children as young as Ezzy – but Angela found an American doctor, Dr Park, who has carried out the operation 4,000 times over the past 30 years, with astounding results.
Mum added: “Her head is completely ready for walking, but her body now has to catch up and she has to retrain her muscles to walk.
“She is having physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and next week starts horse riding.
“It has been a long road but it’s something I would do a thousand times over to see her take her first steps.”
People can follow Ezzy’s progress on her Facebook page ezzyswishtowalk2016 and at www.ezzyswishtowalk.co.uk