A national newspaper has highlighted the inspirational story of Coleraine school boy Oliver Dickey, and questioned why other families are desperate for the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) operation, yet it is only available for a very limited number on the NHS.
Last weekend, The Daily Mail reported that a ‘snip in the spine’ freed little Oliver from his wheelchair.
They asked why other families of cerebral palsy children are forced to pay thousands for it, even though it’s available on the NHS.
Speaking after the article was published, Oliver’s mum, Charlene told The Times that the Coleraine family have been contacted by other families since Oliver’s surgery back in 2014, asking for their help and advice.
Little Oliver, who is now seven, and a pupil at Millburn Primary School, walked on his own for the first time in February, and is now able to stand beside his little brother Max.
Charlene revealed that they are helping other families from Northern Ireland with the application process for the operation that Oliver had in Missouri, America.
The proud mum posts videos and pictures of her son on social media on a weekly basis updating followers on his progress.
Before the operation Oliver was unable to walk and needed support to sit upright.
Charlene said: “We are delighted that the Belfast Trust has now established a pathway for SDR with Alderhey in Liverpool.
“Just three weeks ago the first little boy from Northern Ireland had his surgery there.
“In three weeks time the first little girl from Northern Ireland will travel.”
The mum of two pointed out that since Oliver’s surgery in America last July, there have been just two funded surgeries on the NHS.
“That just give you an idea of how strict the selection criteria for the NHS is,” she said.
“We are currently helping a number of Northern Ireland families with the application process to Dr Park in St. Louis,” she told.
“These children sadly, like Oliver, fall outside the NHS criteria.”
Oliver’s mum Charlene will be competing in the 10km section of the Belfast Telegraph Titanic Runher next month.
She says that watching her brave little son fight for every step, has inspired her to take part in the event.
Best of luck Charlene!