Brave young Wiganer Reuben needs £16k for life-altering op

Reuben Aslett with mum Laura Harrison
Reuben Aslett with mum Laura Harrison

The family of a brave young Wiganer battling cerebral palsy are trying to raise thousands of pounds to get him surgery to improve his life.

Four-year-old Reuben Aslett, from Poolstock, has cerebral palsy and has to spend much of his time in a wheelchair.

His mum Laura Harrison found out about selective dorszal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery which treats muscle spasticity.

This could reduce the tightness in Reuben’s legs, severely lower the amount of pain he is in and help him live a fuller and more normal life.

However, despite Reuben’s consultants saying they thought he would definitely get some benefit from the surgery Laura, of Lockgate Place, was told she and her partner Anthony Wilde would have to foot the £16,000 bill themselves.

This is because the NHS classes cerebral palsy sufferers in five levels and Reuben is level four, with only patients in one to three given the SDR operation for free.

Laura and the rest of Reuben’s family are now pulling out all the stops to find the amount necessary to get Reuben into the operating theatre and have started a crowd-funding page online.

Laura, 30, said: “There’s a possibility that Reuben would be able to do more than he could before if he had the operation.

“I’m not saying he could walk necessarily but when we met with the surgeon she said she would be happy to do the surgery on Reuben and she thought he would benefit from it.

“However, she then said I would have to pay as it wouldn’t be funded.

“I knew it was coming that I wouldn’t get it for free but it was still a bit gutting. I’d got my hopes up a bit as the surgeon was talking.

“The car ride home from the hospital was just me and my partner talking about how we were going to get that kind of money.”

Reuben’s nan Lesley Neromiliotis, 53, said: “I just think it’s unfair when little kids are being told they can’t have something that will benefit them.

“I think we’d expected them to say he wouldn’t benefit from it, but when they said he would but we would have to pay £16,000 I just said: ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe it.

“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time either because it was the day of Children in Need. I thought there are millions of pounds being raised from that and yet there isn’t £16,000 for my grandson’s operation.

“People shouldn’t have to fund operations when there’s money being made for children. I even e-mailed Children in Need about it. It’s annoying.”

Laura and the rest of Reuben’s family have now put the disappointment of not getting the operation paid for by the NHS behind them and are focusing on their fund-raising target.

Several hundred pounds has already been raised and a number of events are in the pipeline.

Laura’s cousin has said he will do a skydive to help Reuben while his stepdad Anthony and his family are planning a trek up Snowdon.

They are also hoping kind-hearted Wiganers will help out and have launched the online campaign to raise £20,000, which would pay for both the operation and extra physiotherapy Reuben would require afterwards.

Reuben was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged two after he started missing some of the milestones in his development.

He had a difficult start to life as he was born when Laura was 29 weeks pregnant and spent nine weeks on the neo-natal unit and then also had to have surgery at Manchester Children’s Hospital aged 14 months for a bleed on the brain.

Reuben, who goes to Hope School, makes the best of his situation but he is entirely reliant on Laura for everyday tasks, such as washing, dressing and feeding.

To find out more about the campaign or donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/reuben-jace