The family of a seven-year-old Chelsea fanatic, who has cerebral palsy, have launched a crowd-funding appeal to help pay for a life-changing operation.
Jude Liversage lives in Stoke but regularly spends five hours travelling back and forth to west London to watch his beloved Blues play.
Now, his family are trying to raise £35,000 to pay for the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), which will improve his ability to walk and his quality of life.
The eight-hour operation is currently being trialled on the NHS after being successfully used in America. But Jude, who has a twin sister Marcie, would have to wait 18 months for the operation and, even then, there is no guarantee he will have it.
His family are keen to have it done soon otherwise the benefits it brings will dramatically reduce.
It is being carried out at the Portland Hospital, in Great Portland Street, on July 4, and will reduce the spacicity in his legs according to dad Tony, who takes him to all the football matches.
The schoolboy, who plays for a cerebral palsy football team in Oldham, said: “I really want to have the operation so I can walk better. I want to make sliding tackles in football and run faster and I want to stop falling over.”
His dad said: “This operation is very, very important for Jude’s future as it will give him a massive chance in life to help improve his balance and stop the numerous falls that he has.
“He goes to mainstream school and has great support but his mobility leaves him feeling upset at times like at school sports day.”
The £35,000 covers the cost of the operation, three-weeks accommodation in London for a parent to be near him, and specialised post-care and physiotherapy.
The total cost is currently being met by the family, with no financial contributions from outside parties or organisations.
Tony said: “If he doesn’t have the operation before the age of 10 there’s no point in him having the operation at all.
“He’s had botox before and it’s worked wonderfully. It relaxes his muscles and reduces the tension in his legs which means he isn’t walking on tiptoes. This would be like a permanent botox operation.
“And this operation could stop him being in a wheelchair when he’s 20.”
This season Jude has come down to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea play in the Premier League on around 15 occasions, and supported them away too, going to see them at Newcastle and other grounds.
Tony said: “He is such a strong character and he is doing very well with his education and participates in a cerebral palsy football team in Oldham, where all his friends are either Manchester United or Manchester City supporters.
“We travel all over the country for most activities and he loves to tell everybody that he supports Chelsea. He has all the strips, training kit, Chelsea bedding, teddy bears and everything else that you can imagine has to be Chelsea.”
His operation will be the first SDR carried out at Portland Hospital, a private hospital which specialises in care for children and women, and involve repairing damaged nerves in Jude’s spine.
To help pay for Jude’s operation and subsequent care and treatment go to www.treeofhope.org.uk/judes-story-judes-sdr.