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Will you help little Oliver's dream to walk, run and jump come true?
WITH VIDEO: The Argus today asks its army of readers to make a little boy's Christmas dream come true.
We have launched an appeal to give five-year-old Oliver Poinsignon the chance to run, jump and climb like any other little boy.
Oliver has cerebral palsy and struggles to get around because of extremely tight and painful muscles in his legs.
He constantly walks on tiptoe so he can only manage short distances before his legs become too tired and the condition has also left him with poor balance.
The youngster's mobility problems will gradually get worse as he gets older, even if he has lots of physiotherapy.
He will eventually need to use a wheelchair all the time.
Oliver's best chance is to have a specialist operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) which can release the tension in the muscles and help Oliver walk more easily.
This would stop the pain he experiences and reduce the number of operations he would need in the future. Then he can dream of running and jumping.
However the operation is not available on the NHS and Oliver's friends and family need to raise £52,000 to cover the cost of surgery and the vital physiotherapy, equipment and support he will need afterwards.
They are already halfway there and The Argus is today launching a campaign urging businesses and people across the county to provide the final push to help them hit their target.
The paper's charity, The Argus Appeal is donating £5,000 to help get things going.
Michael Beard, Editor of The Argus and chairman of The Argus Appeal, said: “To raise the money needed is a really big ask but we know our readers will do everything they can to make Oliver's Christmas dream come true.
“Any donation, big or small, will be well received.”
Oliver's dad Jean Marc Poinsignon, said: “We are absolutely overwhelmed by the support from The Argus.
“It would really make our Christmas if we could reach that target by then.
“Having the operation will make all the difference in the world for Oliver. It is amazing how many people have already been wanting to do what they can to help him and us.”
SDR surgery originated in the US but is now available at a small number of hospitals in the UK.
Oliver was selected as a suitable candidate for surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital but as the procedure is not widely available on the NHS, staff had to bid for funding for the operation.
This was refused by NHS England because the national policy is to only allow the procedure if all other options have been explored and have been unsuccessful.
But surgeons have told Mr Poinsignon and Oliver's mother Julie Langmaid, 36, from Ashurst, near Steyning that the younger the patient, the better the results.
She and Mr Poinsignon, 48, launched the fundraising campaign in September to raise the money needed.
The £26,000 already raised is enough to go ahead with the operation itself in February.
The rest of the money will help cover the cost of physiotherapy and other follow-up treatment.
Ms Langmaid said: “Time is really of the essence for Oliver. It is frustrating about the funding but I am not surprised because that is a national policy issue, but it does make things more difficult.
“Oliver was born very premature at 26 weeks as has had to fight hard all his life. I just want him to have something positive that could really help him.
“He copes amazingly well and is determined to do what he can despite the splints he needs to use.
“We just want to do everything we possibly can to help him.”
“There is a lot to raise, but we are determined to do it and it has been going really well.”
Mr Poinsignon, who were as a cabin crew supervisor for British Airways, said he had lost count of the number of colleagues and friends who have already held a series of fundraising events to boost funds.
These have included tombolas, raffles, head shaves, sponsored marathons runs and much more.
Mr Poinsignon has also written and released a single for Oliver, called Just a Step Away, which is now available to download on iTunes.
A spokesman for NHS England (South) said: "We understand patients and families will feel disappointed when declined this treatment.
“Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a major operation which carries its own risks for patients.
“SDR is an irreversible procedure and some patients may experience deterioration in walking ability or bladder function, and later complications including spinal deformity.
“However, SDR is normally only recommended when other treatments have been tried or failed.
"Expert clinicians have reviewed the evidence supporting this treatment and there is now a single policy for how it will be funded across the country.
“Whilst we can't comment on individual cases, a clinician can make a request for funding if they feel it is the most appropriate course of treatment based on the specific circumstances of their patient.
“We would encourage families to discuss treatment options with their clinicians and follow the formal appeals process if they would like their case to be reconsidered.”
If the campaign raises more than the £52,000 needed - the left over money will go to charity.
To help spread the message on Twitter, use the hashtag #oliversxmasdream.
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