US surgery is first step to free­dom

Mum’s brave quest to help daugh­ter walk un­aided Matilda Cen­tre is waltz­ing back


MOST mums ex­pe­ri­ence the joy of see­ing their chil­dren take their first wob­bly steps when they are still ba­bies, but Ais­ling Cre­han is mov­ing heaven and earth to see her daugh­ter Ciara take those first steps at the age of four.

The Cairns girl has cere­bral palsy-spas­tic diple­gia and has never walked un­aided.

Her mother has searched ev­ery cor­ner of the in­ter­net to find a way for Ciara to walk, run and jump like other kids.

Thanks to her mum, Ciara has been ac­cepted at the Cen­tre for Cere­bal Palsy Spas­tic­ity in St Louis in the US for cut­ting-edge spinal surgery.

If suc­cess­ful, she will leave her four wheels be­hind and walk in­de­pen­dently.

Dr TS Park has pi­o­neered the tech­nique of Sin­glelevel Lamino­plasty In­tra­op­er­a­tive Elec­tro­phys­i­ol­ogy (SLIE), which in­volves the open­ing of one spinal ver­te­brae to ease spas­tic diple­gia and al­low more ease of move­ment and lessen pain. This op­er­a­tion can only be per­formed once. There is no second chance.

Chil­dren’s Health Queens­land prefers Mul­ti­level Lamino­plasty, which in­volves more than one ver­te­brae.

“I dream of her hav­ing a new set of legs, strong and re­li­able. It would feel like a mir­a­cle,” Ms Cre­han, of Trin­ity Beach, told The Sun­day Mail.

“My whole life is ded­i­cated to get­ting Ciara a bet­ter qual­ity of life.

“Ev­ery mum wants the best for their chil­dren and af­ter surgery and a pe­riod of re­hab, there will be no stop­ping my lit­tle girl on her new legs.’’

But this mir­a­cle comes at a big price. The fam­ily needs to raise $150,000 to get to the MATILDA will re­sume her waltz next week­end, as Win­ton re­opens the fa­mous cen­tre ded­i­cated to Aus­tralia’s na­tional song.

The Waltz­ing Matilda Cen­tre, which burned down in 2015, will be re­opened by Gover­nor-Gen­eral Sir Peter Cos­grove and Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk in a star-stud­ded US for the op­er­a­tion and sub­se­quent re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Bo­tox has played a big role in keep­ing lit­tle Ciara mo­bile to date. She is in­jected in her left ham­string and bi­lat­eral calf mus­cles ev­ery six months by a vis­it­ing pe­di­atric re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion spe­cial­ist from Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal (LCCH) in Bris­bane.

“Bo­tulinum toxin A in­jec­tions have proven to help re­duce spas­tic­ity in Ciara’s af­fected mus­cles and im­prove func­tion when com­bined with ther­apy and other phys­i­cal treat­ments,’’ a LCCH spokesman said.

“A very lim­ited num­ber of chil­dren in Aus­tralia are as­sessed as suit­able for the (Mul­ti­level) pro­ce­dure each year, which is why only a small num­ber of pe­di­atric neu­ro­sur­geons are trained to per­form it. The Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal has the only neu­ro­sur­geon who can do the pro­ce­dure in Queens­land.’’ week­end of fes­tiv­i­ties.

Jes­sica Mauboy, John Wil­liamson, the Liv­ing End, Shep­pard, the Black Sor­rows, the Pierce Broth­ers, Busby Marou, Rus­sell Mor­ris and, from the US, Kip Moore and Lee Brice will all per­form in some of the town’s pubs and clubs as well as at two out­door con­certs.

The cen­tre, which opened in 1998, is the first mu­seum ded­i­cated to Aus­tralia’s most widely recog­nised song, penned by Banjo o Pater­son (pic­tured d as statue) in 1885 5 and first per­formed in public at Win­ton’s North Grego- ry Ho­tel. The new, w, ex­panded $23 mil- lion cen­tre is cer- tain to re­store e vi­tal­ity to the town which has also re­ceived a boost from March rains.

WALK OF LIFE: Ciara, 4, could walk for the first time un­aided thanks to mum Ais­ling Cre­han’s ef­forts to raise money to pay for lifechang­ing surgery. Pic­ture: Brian Cassey

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