Burnside girl returns after life changing op in the USA
Feb 27 2013
by Will Henshaw, Rutherglen Reformer
Doctors predict that Rutherglen girl Jessica Penny will be able to walk independently within a year after receiving life changing surgery in the USA.
This was after the Burnside five-year-old had two successful operations at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.
Wee Jess was receiving an operation called elective dorsal rhizotomy from chief neurosurgeon Doctor TS Park.
The surgery was developed in the 1980s and involves cutting sensory nerves in the base of the spine to relieve muscle rigidity caused by cerebral palsy. Many people with cerebral palsy have muscle rigidity in their lower limbs, making walking and sitting difficult.
Jessica suffered cerebral palsy after being starved of oxygen at birth. She also has speech difficulties and cannot walk unaided.
The family started a fund raising quest in April last year, with £60,000 the target needed for the procedure.
After reaching, and exceeding their target, Jessica, dad Colin, mum Lynne and sister Emily jetted off across the Atlantic in January. Colin, who is a chef, had to forego any holidays last year from his job at the Urban Bar and Brasserie in Glasgow to be present for the duration.
However there was a bit of unexpected news when, after the initial procedure, doctors at the world renowned hospital said Jessica would need to have her heel cords and hamstrings lengthened - another operation which costs £11,000.
Luckily so much money had been raised in aid of wee Jess that the family had enough in the fund to cover this.
In total they spent about a month Stateside and although the operations were tough, Jessica showed bravery to persevere.
Mum Lynne, of Broomieknowe Road explained: “We thought that she wouldn’t need the other operation, but they were saying her hamstrings and heel cords were tight so she had to have it.
“Doctor Park was very happy with how things went and thinks she’ll be able to walk within a year. Everything at the hospital went well, it really is a fantastic place.”
However Lynne made clear that this is not a quick fix and there is still work to be done.
Jessica now has to attend intensive physiotherapy several times a week for at least six months to build up her muscles.
The family are due to go back to the hospital after one year for a check-up, however this may be done by video link if Doctor Park is happy with her progress.
Lynne added: “We just want to thank everyone who helped us, we couldn’t have done it without them. There is still a lot to be done though.”
The results of the procedure are already making themselves clear. Just this week Jessica was standing on her own for a short period while moving her arms to ‘Dingle Dangle Scarecrow’. She can also move her toes, something she could not do before.
Midwives Lyn Foy and Donna Jack were struck off last year after it was found that when delivering Jessica they failed to carry out numerous checks and did not notice the unborn baby’s heart rate dropping.
As a result Jessica was starved of oxygen and left severely disabled, with a vocabulary of just six words.