A mother has less than three months to raise £40,000 for her young son’s life-changing operation after he was refused treatment on the NHS.
Ethan Gibbs, aged five, suffers from cerebral palsy, which severely stiffens his muscles and joints and has left him unable to walk without the aid of a special frame.
The happy, cheeky pupil from The Fairway School undergoes weekly physiotherapy and has regular appointments with consultants at various hospitals and a movement disorder clinic.
But he has been refused a life-changing operation by doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital who say his case is marginally too severe for him to qualify for treatment under the NHS.
His mother Gemma Gibbs, from The Orchard, in Edgware, is determined to raise the money herself to pay for the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), which involves separating the nerves at the base of the spinal cord to free up movement in cerebral palsy sufferers.
The 27-year-old said: “For our family it was never a question of him not having the operation – we will find a way.
“I couldn’t believe it when they said he didn’t qualify for the operation. He tries so hard and he’s really started to walk a lot better – we felt it was unfair.”
Doctors have told Gemma they do not believe the treatment will be effective for Ethan.
But the Reception pupil’s school physiotherapist has written to Great Ormond Street to ask for a reassessment – a request that has reportedly been back by his consultant at Edgware Hospital.
For now though, single mother Gemma is working hard to organise events and fundraisers to help pay for the operation, which Ethan could have on July 4 if the money is gathered in time.
Gemma said: “He means the world to me and I want him to be out of pain and enjoying life like other children.
“If he had the operation he wouldn’t have to be pumped with medicine, he wouldn’t wake up every morning really stiff, he would be able to dress himself and have more independence.
“He’s taught me so much over the years – you don’t realise until you have a child with a disability how much they can teach you.
“He’s always happy, even when he’s in pain, and he never lets it get him down. He’s just an amazing, cheeky little boy.”
Former trainee accountant Gemma has already raised £3,000 and has organised various events, including a fun day at The Fairway School on April 27.
Friends and family are also pitching in with a poker night, leg waxing and a charity run, and have set up a website for online donations.
Gemma said: “He’s so eager to walk and we’re determined to get him this operation. Everyone has been supportive and I’m hoping we can reach the target in time.”
To donate to Ethan’s appeal or to find out more about the various fundraisers Gemma has organised, visit the fundraising page here.
Great Ormond Street Hospital said it is unable to comment on its assessments policy.