Ronnie makes ‘remarkable’ progress after life-changing operation

PUBLISHED: 09:11 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 16 November 2018

Ronnie Leys crossing his legs for the first time after his operation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Ronnie Leys crossing his legs for the first time after his operation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


The parents of Ronnie Leys, a three-year-old from Saffron Walden who recently underwent a life-changing operation to allow him to walk, said their son’s progress has been “remarkable”.

Ronnie Leys after his operation. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDRonnie Leys after his operation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Ronnie has cerebral palsy and, back in February, Just 4 Children, a charity which provides fundraising support for families, decided to help Ronnie fulfil his dream to walk without tripping or falling over by raising money for an operation that is not available on the NHS.

Ronnie’s parents, Steve and Clare, were originally aiming to raise £30,000 for the operation, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), and rehabilitation, but in total, the family raised nearly £50,000.

As part of the fundraising efforts, the family organised a celebrity football match, which included Danny Dyer, which raised £15,000.

The match was held at Bishop’s Stortford FC ProKit UK Stadium in May, with Ronnie’s ‘Run, Ronnie, Run Celebrity XI’ playing Saffron Walden Town FC Legends.

Ronnie had his operation at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

“Ronnie’s operation was very successful - we as a family experienced the highs and lows, but stood strong together throughout,” Steve, Ronnie’s dad, said. “It was very tough to see Ronnie in so much pain knowing that this was our choice not his, and found it hard to shift that gut wrenching feeling, but we did so by Ronnie’s progression. It was remarkable, he kept himself a day ahead of schedule throughout and moved swiftly through the different wards to his discharge just seven days after his life-changing operation.”

Ronnie has already asked when he can play football again and his dad said he doesn’t envisage anything beating him anytime soon.

“He has continued to surprise the specialists, nurses and his physio team with his fighting spirit and his self belief to say ‘I can do it’ despite recovering from his operation he has not let anything beat him yet,” Steve said. “It was day six when Ronnie first stood, this was a massive landmark and gave us the hope and realisation that we had now made the right decision funding for his operation.”

Seven days after his operation, Ronnie was able to cross his legs for the first time in his life.

“We really weren’t expecting so much progression in few days,” Steve said. “On day eight, officially a week after his operation, he was walking with a frame along the hospital corridors with the biggest smile you could ever wish to see - he was so proud of himself and knew all his hard work was paying off. Ronnie was discharged from hospital after passing with flying colours that afternoon.”

Ronnie went on to spend a total of 21 days away from home in the care of Bristol Children’s Hospital whose staff have been helping him recover. He will return in six months for an update on his rehabilitation.

“We have now been home for a few weeks but it feels like months,” Steve said. “We have settled down very quickly with Ronnie returning to school to see his friends immediately upon his return. Ronnie will have physio sessions three times a week for the foreseeable future as well as five days at school, swimming and football sessions - he has such a full on physical life but embraces it with his trademark smile.”

Steve said they know it will be a challenging few months, or even years, but they will continue to stand by Ronnie, support him and “give him all the love we possibly can”.

“We are very blessed to have Ronnie and Frankie [ in our lives they fill us up with immense pride,” Steve said. “We would like to again take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped with getting Ronnie to this point.”

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