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Appeal to help little Joe walk

Mike and Sue Knowles with son Joe, three, and his daughter Olivia, nine

Mike and Sue Knowles with son Joe, three, and his daughter Olivia, nine

The family of a three-year-old boy is appealing for help to raise £38,000 towards a life changing operation that will enable him to walk unaided for the first time.

Little Joe Knowles was born with cerebral palsy and can not walk without help.

His parents, Mike and Sue, have taken their son, who has cerebral palsy, to specialists across the country in the hope of finding someone who can help him.

Now doctors have given him a glimmer of hope that may mean Joe can take his first steps.

The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy procedure, would involve a surgeon cutting around two thirds of the nerves leading to Joe’s legs, preventing them causing the stiffness that keeps him from walking without support.

However, the family, who live on Davenport Avenue, Bispham, have been told they will have to find £38,000 to pay for the operation, which is not available on the NHS.

Now they have set up an appeal to help raise the money to pay for the surgery in Leeds.

Dad Mike, 37, said: “It would change his quality of life and enable him to join in with his friends.

“He can’t stand on his own or go to the toilet without someone to help him.

“He’s got a walking frame but he can’t keep up with the other kids and he feels a bit left out because he can’t really get involved with anything.

“But he just carries on with it – he is so strong.”

When Joe, who now goes to Westcliff School Nursery, was born he was taken into special care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital because of his low blood counts.

At first doctors thought he had leukaemia.

When he was six months old, Joe was diagnosed with neo-natal lupus, a rare disease that can affect babies in their early months and can affect the skin, heart and blood.

Mike said: “When he was diagnosed with neo-natal lupus we thought ‘great, in a few months he will be fine’.

“But after 12 months we noticed he couldn’t sit up on his own because his legs were stiff.”

When he was two, Joe was diagnosed with cerebral palsy by doctors at Blenheim House, in Blackpool, and now wears splints day and night to stretch his legs and keep them in the right position – but never complains.

Mike, 37, said: “Before Christmas we were seen by doctors at Leeds General Infirmary.

“After a few hours of seeing people and having a check with the neurologist, they came in with some really good news and really bad news.

“They said the operation would really help Joe walk and be more independent but then said the NHS would not be able to fund it.

“It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth, so now we have to raise the money.”

The family has set up a JustGiving page – www.justgiving.com/joesdreamtowalk

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