A MOTHER is hoping her fundraising quest for an operation to help her son walk will be complete in a matter of months.
Nine-year-old Riccardo Dotolo from Borras Park, Wrexham, was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy as a baby.
The avid Wrexham FC fan cannot walk unaided as the condition means he has no balance.
But he dreams of one day being able to play football just like his friends.
The surgery he needs to give him a shot at a better life – the micro-nuerosurgery Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) – is not currently funded by the NHS in Wales, despite having been commissioned for some children in England.
That means a trip to the USA for the life-changing surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri at a cost of about £60,000.
Since September the efforts of fundraisers co-ordinatoed by Riccardo’s mum Franca Dotolo, 50, have raised £17,000 with an estimated £8,000 still to come in pledges.
And the success of the money-making drive thus far means proud mum Franca said the target – and a new life for Riccardo – could be in sight.
Mrs Dotolo said: “We have a target of being able to reach the amount we need by about March.
“We need £40,000 for the operation and then we are also going to need funding for travel and after-care.
“Everytime someone donates money it makes me cry.
“It means so much to us and is so humbling how generous people have been.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped so far, we are so grateful.”
The money has been raised by a variety of events including a Zumbathon, as well as collection buckets being placed around Wrexham and at Wrexham FC match days.
Mrs Dotolo said people have already pledged to run half-marathons in the new year on their behalf, as well as more events being organised like a family Valentine’s Day dinner at the Brymbo Sports Club.
Welsh health bosses have argued there is a “lack of clinical evidence” about the effectiveness of the treatment which Riccardo wants, which involves identifying and cutting the spinal nerves causing stiffness and pain in cerebral palsy sufferers
Last year, a 2,000-signature petition was delivered to the steps of the Welsh Government in Cardiff Bay by the ‘Support for SDR Wales’ campaign group, calling on ministers to introduce the pioneering procedure in Wales’ hospitals.
Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he had every sympathy with families who have children with cerebral palsy and fully appreciates their desire to pursue treatment they feel could improve their child’s life.
He said: “SDR is not routinely commissioned by the NHS because the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee’s conclusion is that there is a lack of clinical evidence at this time to support the treatment.
“This is consistent with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) view that further research into this procedure and measurement of long term outcomes should take place.”
Anyone who would like to donate money or help organise a fundraising event to help Riccardo’s journey in anyway then visit www.justgiving.com/ riccardosjourneyofhope.