‘It all feels so real now’ - the word’s of Charlene Dickey, as she revealed last week that her son Oliver will have his SDR operation in America on July 1.
The Millburn Primary School pupil will be the first child from Northern Ireland to undergo the pioneering surgery in the US after kind hearted people from the Coleraine area rallied had have raised over £90,000 since the start of 2014.
The procedure called selective dorsal rhizotmy (SDR) will take place at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
Speaking to The Times last week, Charlene said that the family were trying to get organised for the trip: “We’re busy getting flights and hotels sorted. It’s funny this is something that we have dreamed about for so long, it’s just weird to think that it is actually happening now, that I am booking flights for Oliver’s surgery.
“We aim to be in America on the Sunday, a few days before the surgery. Oliver’s operation will take place on Tuesday. We’ll have a better idea about how things will work out for Oliver after his pre-operation assessment.
“Oliver will be in hospital for five days after the surgery and then we have to stay in Missouri for a further three weeks whilst he gets intensive physio.”
Speaking about the operation, Charlene explained: “ We don’t know what the exact outcome of the operation will be. However we do know that it will make Oliver’s legs less tight, and that he won’t be in so much pain.
“He won’t be walking off the plane when we land home in Belfast, the operation is not going to make Oliver walk, but our dream is for him to move more freely.”
Thanks to the support and efforts of Oliver’s supporters, Charlene reckons that the campaign will reach the £100,000 mark: “We’re sitting at £90,000 at the minute, but I think by the time Oliver has his surgery we will be at the £100,000 mark, which is staggering.
“The extra money will be used for the intense physio that Oliver will need, it may mean travelling to London or Glasgow for this.”
Charlene also confirmed that the NHS have agreed to treat Oliver in the hydro pool for two hours a week as part of his ongoing physio after the operation.
Oliver is aware that he is going to America for surgery, but as Charlene explained, herself and husband Neil are approaching the subject slowly: “Oliver knows he is getting an operation. He knows that he wil have to stay there for a few weeks after the surgery, and that his two grannys will be out to help him after the operation.
“Throughout the whole fund raising process we have been focusing on keeping Oliver strong.
“We have told him very little about the surgery.
“It’s a big operation, but we have been in contact with other parents whose children have been through the same process.
“We have shown him pictures of the hospital and of doctor, and the surgical team. We are broaching things very slowly. He has a book about a dragon and little boy that can’t walk, we talk him through that in the hope that he will understand what is in front of him.
“The last thing we want to do is frighten him.”