A THREE-YEAR-OLD girl needs life-changing surgery to allow her to learn to walk.

A severe brain injury at birth left Ophelia Wilson with cerebral palsy, meaning she struggles to coordinate her muscles.

Her father Sam Wilson, 40, said: “She suffered heavy bleeding to the brain and was in the intensive care unit for 100 days.

“They didn’t think she was going to make it out alive. Now she is three and a half years old and surprising everyone.”

But Ophelia, nicknamed Ufi, is unable to walk.

Sam, who lives at Seven Dials, Brighton, with his wife Leticia and Ophelia, said: “She is at nursery at the moment and is surrounded by kids who are walking while she is crawling.

“It might make it difficult in future for her to join in with their activities if she can’t walk.”

Sam has made it his mission to find a way to allow his daughter to walk. He said: “It would be life changing for her.

“For us as parents it would bring tears of joy to our eyes but for her to be able to move around freely would be incredible.”

To achieve this, he discovered an operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy.

He said: “It’s an eight-hour operation where they open up her spinal column where nerves run through to the lower limbs.

“Through a series of tests they unbundle the nerves and find the cause of the cerebral palsy.”

These sensory roots are then divided and then the spinal cord is closed again. Ophelia would need two to four years of physical therapy to re-train her legs and be able to walk.

Sam said: “As of July the NHS have agreed to start funding this operation for very specific cases. This means we only need to raise about £50,000.”

He decided to complete a series of demanding physical challenges to raise the money, including the Brighton Marathon on Sunday.

He said: “I’m not a runner at all and my second child is due in March so my training has been abysmal. I thought about doing the usual bake sales, but if Ufi can push herself every day with a smile on her face I can as well.

“It may sound cheesy, but I’ve got a powerful image of scooping my amazing daughter Ophelia up in my exhausted, ever-so-sweaty arms and having a cuddle and a cry with my wife.”

Sam is running alongside two others as part of Team Ufi and a large group of friends and family will be there to offer support.

The team has already completed a 100km paddle board and also plans to paddle board across the Channel.

Sam is collecting money on a GoFundMe page.

CLICK HERE: If you want to donate to Sam's cause.