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Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Monday, 29 November 2010
Bradley Stoke youngster to fly to USA for operation

By Jenny Walmsley
BBC Bristol

Abigail Hope Newton Smith
Abigail has cerebral palsy and needs help with nearly everything she does

Abigail Newton Smith from Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire, is preparing for a trip to America which could change her life.

The prematurely-born nine-year-old has cerebral palsy, which means she has to use a wheelchair.

She also needs help with nearly everything she does, including moving around at home.

Once in America, Abigail will have a spinal nerve operation in St Louis, Missouri, which she hopes will mean she can walk indoors unaided.

An appeal has raised £36,000 to pay for the surgery and BBC Inside Out West has been following Abigail's story.

Abigail was born 14 weeks early by emergency caesarean section because her mother Carrie had liver failure.

She weighed 1lb 3oz and spent her first six months in Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

'Very dependent'

At 18 months, her parents were told that Abigail had cerebral palsy caused by a bleed in her brain as a result of her early birth.

It mainly affects Abigail's legs but it also means that she struggles with balance and holding things like a pen.

"I am very dependent on my parents and carers at school but I wish I wasn't," Abigail said.

Her mum Carrie added: "Her dream is to be able to walk.

"Abigail has a real zest for life, a thirst for knowledge, and a great sense of humour but she hates being disabled.

"We can't take away the disability but we are hoping this operation can mean she can become more mobile."

Abigail Newton Smith
Abigail was born 14 weeks early and spent her first six months in hospital

Medical notes and video of Abigail were sent to Dr TS Park, the surgeon in St Louis who has refined a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy.

During this procedure, nerve roots which are causing abnormal muscle tone are identified and cut.

And Dr Park believes that with essential intensive post-op physiotherapy, Abigail will show significant improvements in her mobility.

He also predicts she should be able to walk with crutches and even independently indoors.

The family say they are grateful to all who have helped them fundraise through events and sponsored activities and donations - some from strangers.

"We couldn't have done it without all this support," Abigail's mum, Carrie, added.

Abigail - who attends Bowsland Green Primary School in Bradley Stoke - said she was "nervous" about the operation.

However, she added she was excited that she might be able to walk around the house on her own and play more out with her friends.

You can find out more about Abigail's story on BBC One's Inside Out West on Monday, 29 November at 7.30pm.

New start for cerebral palsy boy
29 Nov 10 |  Tees
Surgery helps girl to walk again
08 Jan 10 |  Dorset
Operation 'is to help boy walk'
05 May 09 |  Somerset



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