Three cheers for Theo!

Doc­tors said he’d never walk but then the com­mu­nity be­gan to rally

Chat - - CONTENTS - Michelle War­bur­ton, 30, War­ring­ton

As I heard my hus­band Liam, 26, cheer in the liv­ing room,

I laughed from the kitchen. ‘Goal!’ he cried hap­pily as I wad­dled in with two mugs of tea.


‘You shouldn’t be do­ing that,’ he frowned, sit­ting me down.

It was July 2015 and I was 28 weeks preg­nant.

Fol­low­ing a bleed, I’d re­cently spent nine days in Liver­pool Women’s Hospi­tal. And, now, the doc­tors had con­fined me to bed rest. ‘I’m OK,’ I sighed. But I was soon dis­tracted by the Arse­nal game, our favourite foot­ball team.

We loved watch­ing our lo­cal rugby team the War­ring­ton Wolves play, too.

Liam and I both come from sporty fam­i­lies.

So when our daugh­ter Isla was born in Au­gust 2012, we took her swim­ming and to dance classes early on.

And now I was ex­pect­ing our first son.

‘He’s go­ing to be an Arse­nal sup­porter,’ grinned Liam proudly.

‘Of course,’ I agreed. Only, just a week later, dur­ing a rou­tine check-up, doc­tors dis­cov­ered I was in early labour.

Our son Theo was born 11 weeks early.

Weigh­ing just 2lb 12oz, our boy was taken straight to In­ten­sive Care. De­spite his size, though, he thrived.

And after nine weeks, we were al­lowed to take Theo home.

Doc­tors warned it’d take him a while to catch up with other ba­bies his age. But we were just so grate­ful to have our lovely lad.

He looked so much like Isla, then 2, who adored her baby brother.

And he got stronger ev­ery day.

At 8 months old, he’d al­ready started star­ing at the rugby or foot­ball on TV.

‘Like fa­ther, like son,’ I chuck­led.

Only, at play­group he had me wor­ried.

Theo just lay on his tummy, watch­ing the other ba­bies wrig­gle around the floor.

Kick­ing his legs, he was des­per­ate to push him­self along. But he just couldn’t do it.

‘He’s still not crawl­ing,’ I told our doc­tor when he was 10 months old. Theo had tests.

Then when he turned 1, in July 2016, he was di­ag­nosed with cere­bral palsy in his lower limbs.

The life­long con­di­tion af­fects mus­cle strength and co­or­di­na­tion.

‘He won’t be able to walk un­aided,’ ex­plained the spe­cial­ist.

Our sweet, smi­ley boy would never run around like other lit­tle lads.

Or play foot­ball with his dad, ride a bike.

The spe­cial­ist said the con­di­tion may have been caused by da­m­age to the brain be­fore or dur­ing birth.

I couldn’t help but blame my­self.

Theo was re­ferred to

He was soon zoom­ing around – a star player

a spe­cial­ist at Alder

Hey Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Liver­pool.

He started hav­ing phys­io­ther­apy to get his mus­cles work­ing.

He even had Bo­tox in­jec­tions in his legs to help them re­lax. ‘Sorry, lad,’ I cringed as the nurse stuck nee­dles into his lit­tle thigh. Theo was such a brave boy. And ev­ery day he proved doc­tors wrong. At 14 months, he pulled him­self up us­ing a ta­ble leg.

A few months later, he was given a spe­cial walker with four wheels. There was no stop­ping him from then on.

‘Theo, be care­ful!’ I cried as he scooted around, kick­ing his rugby ball.

In truth, I didn’t mind the chaos.

It was worth it to see him mo­bile.

In Novem­ber 2017, we drove Theo, 2, to a Cere­bral Palsy United FC match in Manch­ester.

It was a spe­cial char­ity foot­ball club for chil­dren and adults just like Theo.

‘He’s like me, Mummy!’ he cried, point­ing to a lit­tle boy out on the pitch us­ing a walker.

Theo was soon out on the field, too, zoom­ing around – a star player.

Then, in July 2018, we got some amaz­ing news.

Theo’s spe­cial­ist told us there was a spe­cial op­er­a­tion that could help Theo walk.

It in­volved cut­ting nerves in his back to make his mus­cles less stiff.

‘It has a very high suc­cess rate,’ said the spe­cial­ist. Only...

The op­er­a­tion cost £21,000.

It wasn’t avail­able on the NHS.

It’d be a fur­ther £40,000 for Theo’s af­ter­care, in­clud­ing physio and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion equip­ment as well. My heart sank. ‘It may as well be a mil­lion pounds,’ I sighed.

‘We’ll find that money,’ Liam said later, as we watched Theo wheel him­self around the gar­den, play­ing foot­ball with Isla.

What­ever it takes.

We told all our loved ones that we wanted to start fund-rais­ing.

Within weeks, our friends, neigh­bours, lo­cal com­pa­nies and even com­plete strangers had raised £3,650.

And through spon­sored walks, runs, sports days and raf­fles, the fig­ure kept ris­ing.

And then, in Jan­uary, the NHS an­nounced a change in pol­icy.

‘They’re go­ing to fund Theo’s op­er­a­tion!’ I cried to Liam, clutch­ing the let­ter in my hand. ‘Amaz­ing!’ Liam said. It meant with just the af­ter­care fees to worry about, we were al­ready al­most half­way there.

As the months went on, ev­ery­one clubbed to­gether for Theo. Busi­nesses gen­er­ously do­nated prod­ucts and ser­vices for a char­ity auc­tion, which raised more than £1,000.

So many neigh­bours and mem­bers of our lo­cal com­mu­nity do­nated prizes for raf­fles and helped or­gan­ise events.

In­clud­ing Theo’s favourite player from the War­ring­ton Wolves!

‘I’m go­ing to be a rugby player when I grow up,’ Theo grinned.

‘You can,’ I smiled.

Me and Liam have been to­tally over­whelmed with peo­ple’s gen­eros­ity.

Now, we’ve al­most reached our £40,000 tar­get. Theo’s op is soon. He’ll spend four weeks in hospi­tal, then it’ll take months of re­hab to get him on his feet.

Not that it fazes Theo, 4. ‘My legs are poorly but they’ll be bet­ter soon,’ he tells friends.

Our sports-mad lad is de­ter­mined to be like any other lit­tle boy.

To me, he’ll al­ways be a lit­tle champ.

For up­dates on Theo, or to do­nate, visit just­giv­ crowd­fund­ing/ jane-cann

Our sports­mad lad

Me with Theo, Isla and Liam

Theo’s like any cheeky littl’un

He shoots, he scores!

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