Red Deer mom needs money for daughter’s surgery in U.S.

Four-year-old cerebral palsy patient

A Red Deer mom is trying to raise $150,000 so her young daughter with cerebral palsy can get surgery in the United States to improve her mobility.

Jaimie Swords wants her daughter Sunnie, 4, to have a selective dorsal rhizotomy in St. Louis, Mo., by a well-known expert in the surgery, instead of in Edmonton. She said the surgery is done differently in the U.S., and the outcome is better.

“What they do is take two pieces of the spinal column in Canada and snip only selective spinal nerves. Whereas in the States, they believe in cutting all of the spinal nerves that are causing the problem, the spasticity to her legs,” Swords said.

“Right now she is pretty much wheelchair-bound and the States is saying she will likely walk with just forearm crutches. In Canada, they say she will be in her wheelchair most of the time and use her walker.”

She said Sunnie would walk better, experience less pain and require less orthopedic surgery in the future if she had surgery in the U.S.

She said surgery in Alberta is more invasive followed by a three-month hospital stay. In the U.S. her daughter would only be in hospital for up to three days followed by a month of intensive physiotherapy in the U.S. that would continue when she returns home.

Sunnie’s podiatrist in Edmonton have agreed to provide any follow-up care necessary after the U.S. surgery and physiotherapy is available in Red Deer, she said.

Swords, who is a registered nurse, said she only found out about the surgery last year which should be done between the age of two and six. The earlier it’s done, the better.

“Her hips are so tight. The spasticity in her legs will eventually pull her hips right out of their sockets.”

Sunnie is booked for surgery in St. Louis in May.

Swords started at Go Fund Me account — https://www.gofundme.com/smiles-for-sunnie?ssid=841680698&pos=1 — to raise money to pay for the surgery, equipment, travel and accommodations.

She said the province has already denied funding to Sunnie for the U.S. surgery because it is available in Alberta.

Swords said Sunnie, who had a brain injury at birth, is one determined little girl.

“From what we understand she is very cognitively normal. She is slow because she didn’t talk until she was two and a half because of her cerebral palsy. It’s really hard for her to engage socially because kids just want to run away and play and she can’t keep up.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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