A nine-year-old boy who dreamed of walking alongside his twin brother has finally taken his first steps with him.
Marcus McCarthy didn’t have the strength to stand on his own two feet after being born with cerebral palsy which caused his muscles to stiffen.
Although his healthy twin Jacob tried to help him with things he just couldn’t match him.
But after a life-changing operation to give him more movement and 12 months of intensive physiotherapy, Marcus has now ditched his walking frame to walk for the first time.
His proud mum, Scarlett, 30, said: “It has been a long but good year, Marcus has had to work the hardest.
“He has achieved so much in one year and yet still has a lot of work to do.
“It has been difficult for him, he has had to cope with his body changing but he is getting more confident.
“This year has changed Marcus’ life, its not been easy and sometime it has not been fun but to be one year post-operation feels amazing and we are all so proud of both boys.”
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills -the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way.
It is usually caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first three to five years of a child’s life.
The operation, a selective dorsal rhizotomy which was performed at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (GOSH), involved Marcus having his calf muscles cut and lengthened before having botox injected into his hamstrings.
The youngster, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was one of 120 children to be referred for the surgery by his GP as part of a trial in 2014, meaning he had the £30,000 operation paid for by the NHS.
It was a dream come true for the family who had previously been led to believe that Marcus may never be able to walk.
“Before this it was a dream thinking that Marcus would walk,” said Scarlett.
“It never happened and we were told that he would never walk unaided.
“In reality no-one had ever given him a chance. What he can do now is such an achievement.
“He has come so far and we just can’t believe it.
“It’s amazing to see Marcus and Jacob standing together, we never thought it would happen.”
Following the procedure in October 2015, Marcus was required to undergo intensive physiotherapy to re-build the strength in his legs.
Although an amount was offered to him on the NHS, the family opted to pay privately for two extra sessions a week to give him the best chance of walking.
Scarlett, who is married to casino croupier Peter McCarthy, 37, said: “What the operation did was remove the spasticity so he could move more freely. He couldn’t move properly before.
“It retrained his brain and made everything much more natural.
“The first year is so important and was all about exercise and getting his muscles moving.
“He was so determined and so we wanted to do everything we could to give him the best chance.”
Despite everything he has been through, Marcus is still able to attend mainstream school with Jacob, where his classmates are rooting for him to get him permenantly on his feet.
Sally Nutman, headtracher of the Sacred Heart Primary School in Southend, said: “The Sacred Heart community has always wanted the best for Marcus and his brother Jacob since they joined in reception.
“Their classmates are very supportive of efforts to provide physiotherapy to Marcus to make his surgery a success. It has been a very difficult time for the family but they have been very brave.”
Marcus’ family hope that one day he will be able to walk properly and they are continuing to fundraise to pay for his contuining rehabilitation.
Scarlett, who gave up her dream to work in fashion to support other families with disabled children, has set up the Move a Mountain 4 Marcus appeal to help raise money.
She added: “Our fundraising campaign has raised £10,000 in eight months from Southend residents, Marcus’ school, small businesses, family and friends.
“The support we have had is amazing and we can’t thank people enough.”
To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/moveamountain4Marcus