OLIVER Sharman wants nothing more than to be able to walk and play football like other little boys.
But the eight-year-old has cerebral palsy. His condition means his muscles are abnormally tight and he can only walk with a special frame.
He can occasionally move around on tiptoe but the youngster finds this too difficult, and so he uses a wheelchair when he is out and about.
All his parents, Yasemin and Lloyd Sharman, correct spelling from Kingsway, Hove, want too is for their son to be able to walk.
And now this dream may come true after The Argus Appeal donated £8,000 to the family to pay for a life-changing operation. It comes as the charity, which has given millions to worthy causes in Sussex, celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The story started when little Oliver was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months-old.
Yasemin, 48, recalls: “When Oliver was born premature nine weeks there was no problem, but I noticed a difference when I started taking him to groups. I kept telling the midwives something was wrong, but they thought he was normal for his age. He was 18 months when they finally referred him to the specialist for cerebral palsy. I was in shock and didn’t accept it. I asked him would my son ever be able to walk and he said ‘no’ because all four limbs were affected.”
Yasemin and Lloyd were devastated but they were determine to see their boy walk one day.
Breaking down in tears, Yasemin said: “It’s difficult to look after a disabled child. I keep thinking ‘if I die who will look after him?’ - people are so inpatient. I just want to see him being independent and for him to take care of himself before I die.
“My only wish was to walk with my son hand in hand because I’ve never had that. I didn’t believe the doctors, but there is no cure.”
When Oliver was four Yasemin took her son to Great Ormond Street Hospital to see if he was eligible for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).
The operation is used to improve muscle stiffness in cerebral palsy and has been proven to improve movement and walking as well as quality of life for both the children and their families.
But Oliver’s was not deemed suitable for the procedure’s strict criteria.
Undeterred, Yasemin decided to travel to London to learn therapies to stretch Oliver’s muscles, in the hope the therapy might work and make him eligible for procedure. For hours every day the devoted mother stretched and exercised his muscles. Oliver could not exercise himself because of his condition.
Five years of hard work paid off and Oliver’s joints became more flexible. The physiotherapist recommended Oliver go for another assessment for the SDR operation at Great Ormond Street.
“I couldn’t believe it. Whatever I tried worked,” remembers Yasemin.
Oliver was accepted for the procedure in January 2016, but a massive hurdle remained in the way - the operation came at a cost.
The procedure was not available on the NHS and Oliver’s parents would need to raise £27,000 to cover the cost of the operation.
Determined not to let money get in the way, Yasemin and Lloyd started organising events and writing letters to fundraise.
Two cake sales at West Hove Junior School, where Oliver is in Year 4, raised £895. Hove Women’s Rugby Team raised £1,800, while four therapists donated their time for a massage event raking in £430.
The family raised an impressive £20,000 over seven months but they were still so far from their target and had to postpone the operation twice. Yasmin could not bare to think of the haunting prospect of postponing the operation for a third time: “He was is in pain and kept saying ‘mummy it hurts’ to me.”
But the family’s fortunes turned after Yasmin came across The Argus Appeal. After reading how the charity helped another child she applied for funding, which was accepted by the appeal’s Board of Trustees.
Phil Graves, from estate agents Graves Jenkins, who helped organise a fundraising golf day, said: “ I visited Oliver and spent some time with his parents. They are truly grateful for what The Argus Appeal has done for them, especially his mother who has dedicated her life to him since the diagnosis.”
Yasemin said: “I still can’t believe it. I will be thankful to The Argus Appeal forever.”
Now thanks to The Argus Appeal, and the many other people who donated, Oliver will have the six hour operation at Great Ormond Street on Saturday February 4.
His father Lloyd, an engineer, said: “Oliver just wants to run and play with his friends. Now we are very very close to an independent life for him.”
For nine months after the operation Oliver will have less mobility than he currently has until he gets better. He will need to get used to his body and using muscles he has never used before with the help of physiotherapy, which again has to be paid for. It will take time to regain strength in his legs, but the operation gives him a fighting chance of walking one day.
Yasmin added: “He keeps telling everyone ‘ I am going to kiss mummy and daddy, put a mask on and go to sleep. And when I wake up I will run and play football with my friends.”
THE ARGUS APPEAL HAS GIVEN MILLIONS OF POUNDS TO WORTHY CAUSES
THANKS to The Argus Appeal and the many other people who donated, Oliver will have a six-hour operation at Great Ormond Street on Saturday in a bid to help the mobility problems caused by cerebral palsy.
His father Lloyd, an engineer, said: “Oliver just wants to run and play with his friends. Now we are very, very close to an independent life for him.”
For nine months after the operation Oliver will have less mobility than he currently has until he gets better.
He will need to get used to his body and using muscles he has never used before with the help of physiotherapy, which again has to be paid for.
It will take time to regain strength in his legs but the operation gives him a fighting chance of walking one day.
Yasmin added: “He keeps telling everyone ‘I am going to kiss Mummy and daddy, put a mask on and go to sleep. And when I wake up I will run and play football with my friends’.”
The Argus Appeal is celebrating 60 years of giving millions of pounds to hundreds of worthy causes in Sussex. To mark the occasion we are raising an additional £60,000 throughout the course of 2017.
But we need your help. Whether you do a sponsored run, hold a cake sale in the office or simply make a donation – every penny will be appreciated.
To fundraise or donate visit justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/argus/appeal60.
You can also send a cheque to Elsa Gillio, Argus Appeal Co-ordinator, The Argus, Dolphin House, 2-5 Manchester Street, Brighton, BN2 1TF. You can also call Andre Rhoden-Paul on 01273 021427 or email email@example.com.