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US surgery gives Ollie a life-changing chance

Ollie Lanham grins and giggles as he chases his older siblings Elliott and Millie around the garden of their Hughes home, using his walker to steady his uncertain steps. 

The two-year-old has cerebral palsy and has only  taken four completely unaided steps on his own. 

Ollie will soon have  surgery in the United States, which his parents, Angela Patch and Mark Lanham, hope will give him the chance to run, walk and even ride a bike on his own. 

He will have the procedure, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), at St Louis Children's Hospital,  Missouri, in December. 

The operation has been shown to permanently reduce spasticity in children with cerebral palsy, improving their sitting, balance and mobility.

Ollie's cerebral palsy was due to congenital cytomegalovirus, which also left him profoundly deaf in his left ear.

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His mum said  he frequently has to travel to Sydney for treatment and has botox injections into his legs and hips to reduce his spasticity and help him to move with a walker.

Ms Patch first heard about SDR after reading a story sent from her sister-in-law and was amazed by what she saw. 

"I started to look into it and I was watching Youtube clips of kids before and after and I was in tears, I could not believe what I was seeing," she said. 

Ms Patch applied to St Louis Children's Hospital for Ollie to be assessed for surgery, and in August they were told he was a good  candidate. 

The family anticipates they will need to be in America for about a month, while Ollie is monitored and has rehabilitation.

It will cost about $70,000 and the family has already raised more more than $42,000 through a crowd funding campaign

Ms Patch said although the procedure was available in Australia, St Louis Children's Hospital performed four to five SDRs a week.  Ollie would be under a surgeon who had performed the procedure more than 2800 times and used a less invasive technique. 

She hopes the surgery will greatly improve her son's life and eliminate or greatly reduce his need for painful and invasive orthopaedic procedures. 

"It is daunting but I am also very excited and optimistic because this is going to give him the life we think he deserves like every other child," she said.

The hospital was confident Ollie will be able to walk independently after surgery. 

"It's also things like sitting ... skipping, jumping, running, just doing all the normal things most of us take for granted," she said.

A 90-minute obstacle course dubbed Operation Ollie, will be held on October 25 as part of one of many fundraisers helping the family achieve their dream for Ollie.

Ms Patch said she was deeply grateful to everyone who had donated. 

For more information, visit Ollie's Cerebral Palsy Dream at www.gofundme.com/cgctis or on facebook