WALK FOR ME
An incredible act of kindness changed a boy’s life forever...
WAnn Drewery, 49, Chepstow atching my son, Brecon, five, as he sat at the kitchen table happily scribbling away, my heart swelled with pride.
‘What do you think, Mummy?’ he said, holding up his drawing. ‘Very good, well done!’ I said. It was hard to believe that Brecon had such a tough start to life.
My partner, Rob Vaughan, 49, and I were desperate to start a family, and after two years without success, we were beginning to think it would’t happen.
‘Let’s not give up,’ Rob would say reassuringly, each time I emerged from the bathroom in tears.
When two blue lines finally appeared on the plastic stick in my hand, I couldn’t believe it.
As the news sank in, I became a bag of nerves and convinced myself that something would go wrong.
But my pregnancy went without a hitch.
When I gave birth to Brecon via caesarean at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport on 24 September 2007, our little family finally felt complete.
But soon our bliss turned into a nightmare, when Brecon was checked over and we discovered he had two dislocated hips.
At just five days old, the doctor placed him into a pelvic harness to help his hips shift back into the right position.
‘He will need to wear the harness constantly for four months,’ he warned us.with straps looped over his legs pushing them outwards and material across his chest and shoulders, Brecon looked like a little frog.
But although it worked with one hip, the other wouldn’t budge.
‘The next step is a closed reduction operation to put it right,’ the consultant told us.
He explained that the surgery would involve physically manipulating the hip joint to get the ball back into the socket while Brecon was under general anesthetic. As he was wheeled into theatre, I anxiously paced the corridors.
The first attempt failed, so Brecon had to undergo a second operation before he had even reached nine months old. Then a third at 13 months. Each time little Brecon was put in a body cast, which covered him from his chest down to his feet.
Because he had been rigid for so long, when the plaster eventually came off, he was floppy and all over the place. He had to learn how
crawl again and wasn’t reaching the milestones that other children his age were, but we thought it was due to everything he’d been through since he was born. I longed to watch him take his
first steps, but it just wasn’t happening.
What we didn’t realise was that Brecon’s hip problems were overshadowing something much more serious.
‘Brecon has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy,’ a specialist told us. Brecon was two-and-half years old.
I felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks. I was devastated.
All along I knew something wasn’t quite right,but I never imagined it would be life changing.
The debilitating nerve-muscle condition meant Brecon would have stiffness in his legs and poor balance and co-ordination.
‘He’ll never be able to run with his friends,’ I whispered. It broke my heart. But we were determined to give Brecon every opportunity in life.
We adapted the house and garden, and bought him a walker so he could totter from place to place more independently.
When Brecon started nursery, the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating and the other
children were intrigued by his walker. All our fears melted away as he was always included.
But everyday tasks, like getting a drink or going to the toilet, weren’t straightforward for Brecon and
sometimes it would get him down. ‘I can’t keep up with my friends,’ he’d moan after a tough day at school.
I’d give him a squeeze and he’d quickly bounce back.
Brecon never failed to amaze me.
A chance meeting gave us all hope, when we bumped into a family whose son also had cerebral palsy.
He’d undergone pioneering surgery in America and was learning to walk by himself.
We were so emotional and vowed to do the same for Brecon.
As we browsed the internet, we found out about the selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure that would enable Brecon to walk unaided.
Although when we added up costs, they totalled £60,000. ‘It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we’ll raise the money,’ I said.
We both knew we couldn’t deny Brecon the opportunity to walk.
Quickly our event planning became like a military operation. It took up most of our time and left us exhausted, but we knew it would be worth the effort.through coffee mornings, fetes and pub quizzes, we were able to raise £11,000, but we were still a long way off the figure required.
‘I got a message on Facebook,’ Rob said to me one evening. ‘Someone wants to help Brecon’s cause.’ He told me he had been contacted by Michaela Black, 45, whose son, Dan, 25, had been paralysed in a cycling accident four years previously. Ever since, he had been raising money for pioneering stem cell treatment which could one day help him to walk again.
But after collecting £20,000, he wanted to give it all to Brecon so he could have the chance to learn to walk instead. Dan selflessly decided to abandon his own dream after hearing about Brecon.‘i can’t believe it!’ I gasped, bursting in to tears. He lived just 10 minutes away from us and had read about Brecon and his condition in the local newspaper.‘that’s a third of our target, it’s a huge amount of money,’ I cried. Dan’s kind gesture received national publicity and soon donations from across the world came flooding in.
Within a few weeks we hit and even exceeded the £60,000 mark.
Brecon had his operation in October 2013, and we used the remaining funds to pay for his ongoing physiotherapy.
In June 2014, he took his first independent steps.
He is now nine and is so happy to be just like his friends. He refuses to use his walker now. He still has a long way to go, but he is getting stronger every day.
We couldn’t be more grateful to Dan. His generous gesture has allowed our son to live a normal life and we’re so thankful.
What Dan did was incredible
We exceeded our target
Brecon never gives up trying