Lancaster schoolboy Reilly gets go-ahead for life-changing surgery

5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine.
5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine.

A Lancaster boy is to undergo life-changing surgery after his family reached their £21,000 fundraising goal for the treatment.

Five-year-old Reilly McCarthy has cerebral palsy and struggles to keep up with his brother Carter, seven, and his friends.

5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine.

5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine.

The Guardian reported a year ago how Reilly’s family was aiming to raise £21,000 for him to undergo vital surgery.

The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) treatment he needs is no longer available on the NHS, and so the McCarthys needed to raise the cash themselves before Reilly could have the treatment.

And we can reveal that the grand total has now been raised, meaning little Reilly can now have the treatment he needs.

His delighted mum Justine said: “I want to thank every person who contributed to help raise the full £21,000.

5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine and brother Carter.

5-year-old Reilly McCarthy, pictured with mum Justine and brother Carter.

“Without their help Reilly would not be getting the best treatment possible for his condition.”

Reilly, now five, will be admitted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool on March 8 and will be a patient for three to four weeks.

Due to his age and the location of the hospital, an adult needs to be with Reilly at all times, and Justine said she is grateful to family and friends as well as his school – Halton St Wilfrid’s CE Primary – for their support.

“It’s thanks to all these people who have made this time that little bit less stressful,” the 33-year-old said.

Reilly McCarthy.

Reilly McCarthy.

Reilly will undergo his surgery on March 9, and will be under general anaesthetic for the five-hour operation.

The surgeon will make an incision in his back close to his spine and they will then test each nerve to find those causing the spasticity in his leg, and then cut them.

This will reduce the spasticity in his lower limbs.

Reilly will then have to learn to walk again in the physio which will begin two days after the surgery and continue twice a day for three weeks during his stay at the hospital.

Once Reilly is back home in Lancaster, the physio will continue at least three times a week with a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will also give Justine exercises to do with Reilly on the other days.

It can take up to two years to see the full benefit of this operation.

“We obviously have a long way to go and it will be trying times but I will be forever grateful to those who donated and helped raise this money to give my son the best possible opportunity,” Justine said.

Reilly was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy after being born prematurely at 30 weeks, weighing just 3lb 11oz.

When Justine became concerned about his delayed development, Reilly underwent several assessments and an MRI scan which confirmed his condition.

Cerebral palsy affects muscle control and movement. The spasticity means muscle tone is tight and stiff, causing a decrease in range of movement as well as pain.

However, despite his difficulties, Reilly is progressing better than expected.

“I was told he may never walk unaided but he is such a determined little boy he now walks unaided,” Justine said.

“He walks on his tiptoes and tries to run and jump without falling over.

“He has such a gait that he becomes tired and suffers aches and pains regularly.

“As Reilly grows his muscles become tighter making walking more and more difficult. He sees his brother Carter play football and he wants to play.

“He wants to join in with everything Carter does, but he is starting to acknowledge he hasn’t got the balance or stability.

“But he is always so happy. He just brings so much joy to everyone’s lives. He’s touched so many people with how happy he is and he never lets it get him down.

“I have never seen a kid so happy when he has so many problems.”