A ‘secret millionaire’ has offered to fund vital treatment to give a four-year-old girl the chance to walk when she grows up.
Emily Anderson has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Her family wanted her to undergo the same treatment given to Mirror boy Ben Baddeley.
Our readers raised £20,000 for the procedure, called selective dorsal rhizotomy after his operation was cancelled in 2014 at the last minute due to Tory NHS cuts.
Emily’s family started a crowd-funding appeal to raise £10,000 for the same private surgery and aftercare, when a local businessman stepped in and offered to pay it all.
Her mum Paula Ratcliffe was “still speechless” after the donor also offered to pay for a trip to Disneyland once Emily’s treatment is over.
Paula, of Doncaster, said: “I got a call out of the blue with this absolutely amazing offer.
A local businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering to completely fund all Emily’s surgery, treatment, rehabilitation and after-care, along with any equipment she needs and, amazingly, he’s even offering to fund a trip to Disneyland.”
Paula, 34, and her partner John Anderson, 36, have three other daughters, Katie, 16, Charlotte, 12, and sixteen-month-old Mia, who has been in Sheffield Children’s Hospital since complications at birth.
Brain damage at birth meant Emily could not walk, and the treatment would prevent further spinal deformities and give her a greater chance of walking.
The operation involves cutting and repositioning the spinal nerve so Emily can straighten out and have more movement in her legs.
“After surgery, rehab is the main thing,” Paula said. “There needs to be 100% effort in the aftercare or it’s not worth the operation.”
Emily, who also has a GoFundMe page, uses a wheelchair in school but said she is looking forward to “doing the climbing bars and kicking a football” when she can walk.
Her mum added: “Emily is a beautiful, bright girl who understands everything and just wants to walk and play normally with her friends.
“But the operation is massively expensive and rarely, if ever, available on the NHS.” The donor’s offer had left her “in floods of tears with shock and disbelief”.
Ben, of Silverdale, Staffs., has now turned 16, is able to walk without pain following his operation and is planning to go to college.
Paula added: “The businessman saw pictures of Emily and they melted his heart. She is a little charmer. He is very well off and likes to help out people anonymously.
“He gives big food parcels for the homeless at Christmas. We will have to keep on fundraising for Emily’s physio until she grows up. But
this operation gives her the chance to transform her life.
“I spend every day researching the treatment, and now I need to decide the best way forward. It is great to hear Ben Baddeley’s story, it makes you realise this treatment does work.
“I only wish it was available on the NHS.”