HAVING seen his friend Sophie learn to walk, schoolboy Jamie Colwell from Durrington is now determined to do the same.
And that is why his family has decided to try to raise £40,000 to send the seven-year-old to America for a life-changing operation.
Jamie, of Shelby Road, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means he has difficulty using both his arms and legs and has to use a wheelchair most of the time.
It is the same condition as Sophie Nugent, who has featured in the Herald/Gazette many times over the past year as her family went about sending her to the USA for the surgery Jamie now wants.
Jamie’s mum and step-dad, Gemma and Michael Chappell, along with his dad Dennis Colwell, are hoping to be able to fly Jamie out to St Louis for the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery some time next year.
Gemma, 25, said: “It is a big undertaking, and at the moment I can’t sleep at night because my brain’s constantly ticking over.
“It was quite a scary decision to make, because you’re not just talking about deciding to let Jamie have this big surgery, it’s also taking up a project to raise this money.
“I have got two other children, and one on the way, so I’m quite busy, but we’ve thought about it, and Jamie has seen what it’s done for Sophie and has decided he would like to have it, so we’re going to go for it.”
Jamie was born 10 weeks early, and Gemma said for no apparent reason, either during his birth or some time just after it, he suffered a bleed on his brain.
This resulted in his cerebral palsy, although it was not diagnosed until he was eight months old.
Despite his health problems, Gemma said Jamie never complains and is a happy little boy.
But without having the surgery in America, his future in this country would be to accept being in a wheelchair for the rest of his life as the surgery is not offered in the UK.
Gemma, also mum to Tori-Ella, six, and Honey, 17 months, said: “It was a bolt out of the blue when we were told Jamie had cerebral palsy, because he didn’t look unwell.
“We had only gone to the doctor, because he was only just starting to roll over at eight months old, so we were a bit concerned about his development.
“He looked so perfect and you don’t want to have to accept your child has something wrong – it was hard to take in.
“It is frustrating the operation isn’t offered here, especially when you see what it’s done for Sophie. I think they need to look again at what a difference it makes.”
Jamie is a pupil at West Park CE First and Middle School, in Marlborough Road, Worthing.
He and Sophie both use the Willows Centre there, which allows them to have intensive physiotherapy during the school day.
Gemma said it was important to her that Jamie went to a mainstream school, and she said he is a popular classmate who loves football.
To donate money to Jamie’s fund, call Gemma on 07785 504359, or visit the Facebook page, Help Jamie to Find his Feet.