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Zack Fielding-Smith enjoys his first Christmas after life-changing operation

Date published: 04 January 2018


This is the moment that Zack Fielding-Smith wore slippers for the very first time after extensive surgery changed his life forever.

The beaming four-year-old from Heywood, who has cerebral palsy, underwent a life-changing operation in the United States in July last year to remove faulty nerves in his spine.

His mum, Andrea Fielding, said: “Zack had a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involved cutting the dead nerves from his spinal cord to eradicate spasticity. He improved right away and recovered fast. He was up on his feet straight away and he’s just continued to thrive since then. He has this thin scar that he likes to show off.”

Prior to the operation, which was only possible thanks to the generosity of people in Heywood, Zack could only walk using specially-made medical footwear. If his condition had continued to decline, the little boy could have ended up wheelchair-bound.

Tens of thousands of pounds were raised through various fundraisers over the summer so that Zack could undergo extensive surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.

Andrea explained: “His mobility could have deteriorated and his legs could have curled up and never straightened out.

"Since the operation, he is so much stronger. His three siblings were shocked at the muscles in his legs, because they used to have no shape. They were tubular and squishy, whereas now his legs are in amazing shape.”

Now that his feet have been straightened out, the smiling youngster wore his first pair of slippers on Christmas Day and has also been bought his very first pair of boots by Andrea, who said she could not resist.

Zack no longer needs the patches he used to wear to help him dribble less, he does not fall as frequently and he is calmer.

He has been doing so well that Andrea is confident that doctors will say he no longer requires his ankle supports at his next check-up.

She said: “I am thinking he will give us the go ahead to stop wearing his splints and his medical boots, then I will finally be able to buy him a pair of trainers. We should then get some special insoles so he can wear any shoes.”

The mum of four continued: “He has improved so much at school too. He can communicate better now and he is forming friendships with the other children. He is much calmer now too and it’s just incredible.”

Andrea added: “2017 was an amazing year for him and we will always be eternally grateful to all the lovely people in our little home town Heywood. It is all thanks to you for helping me raise the funds for his life-changing operation. It has definitely been worth every penny and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”


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