‘Wee Jess’ makes good progress af­ter surgery

Rutherglen Reformer - - CAMBUSLANG PARK'S FUN DAY - Will Hen­shaw

Brave Ruther­glen girl Jes­sica Penny is con­tin­u­ing to come on leaps and bounds af­ter her lifechang­ing surgery in the USA.

In April 2012, we told the story of the Penny fam­ily of Burn­side who were at­tempt­ing to raise £60,000 for an op­er­a­tion so their hand­i­capped daugh­ter Jes­sica could walk.

And now the seven- year- old, who suf­fers from cere­bral palsy, is able to stand and take steps un­aided and even play in the gar­den with her sis­ter Emily (5).

Jes­sica, who lives on Broomieknowe Drive with mum Lynne, dad Colin and Emily, was starved of oxy­gen when she was born in the Princess Royal Ma­ter­nity Unit in Glas­gow on Au­gust 27, 2007. It left her se­verely dis­abled and with a vo­cab­u­lary of just six words.

It dev­as­tated Lynne and Colin, who made it their mis­sion to give ‘Wee Jess’ the best qual­ity of life they could.

Hope was af­forded when the cou­ple heard of an op­er­a­tion called se­lec­tive dor­sal rhi­zo­tomy which had a high suc­cess rate in help­ing chil­dren like Jes­sica to walk.

How­ever, the pro­ce­dure was not of­fered on the NHS, or even in this coun­try, as it was pre­formed at St Louis Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Mis­souri by chief neu­ro­sur­geon Dr T S Park.

The fam­ily man­aged to raise the sum and Jess un­der­went the pro­ce­dure in Jan­uary 2012.

Now, three years on, although the surgery has changed her life for the bet­ter, there is still a lot of hard work for Jess.

She has to swim, and goes horse rid­ing, ev­ery week as well as visit a clinic in Perth for spe­cial strength train­ing. A per­sonal trainer also vis­its two times a week.

Mum Lynne said: “Ev­ery time she grows she gets off bal­ance and can stum­ble when she walks. She has to keep ex­er­cis­ing to make sure she con­tin­ues to get the ben­e­fits of the op­er­a­tion. She ex­pe­ri­ences more tight­ness when she grows as well, all chil­dren do, but it’s worse with Jes­sica.”

Jes­sica also has to go to speech ther­apy and uses a Maka­ton, a lan­guage pro­gramme that uses signs and sym­bols to help peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate, and Nova Chat, a speech-gen­er­at­ing de­vice.

Although there is a lot of hard work, the ben­e­fits are there for all to see.

Lynne added: “Right now she’s play­ing in the gar­den with Emily un­su­per­vised, we could never have done that be­fore. Be­fore the op­er­a­tion she was play­ing in the gar­den and she fell and bumped her head and we had to take her to hos­pi­tal so to get to the point where she can play with her sis­ter is amaz­ing.”

Although many peo­ple would strug­gle with such a de­mand­ing phys­i­cal sched­ule, wee Jess is de­ter­mined to get through it.

“She is al­ways tired be­cause she has to do so much,” says Lynne. “She swam ev­ery day this week and she’ll be tired and grumpy af­ter it, but she al­ways wants to do it.”

Progress Jes­sica can now stand and walk by her­self

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