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..I jumped out of a plane to save my son; one weekend..

Byline: Kia Agass

'Looking at the tiny blue plane my heart sank. I turned to my 'mum as the engine began to whirr and told her I'd never be able to go through with it. I was about to skydive from 15,000 feet and could feel myself shaking.

My little boy Dylan, then five, flashed into my mind and I thought about him waiting on the ground for me to land.

As I pictured his smile, I stepped into the cockpit with my skydiving instructor and pushed the fear from my mind. Dylan was the reason I was about to jump from a plane.

My son had been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy when he was just eight months old; he was starved of oxygen for 45 minutes during a traumatic birth and most of his organs failed.

The part of his brain that controlled his motor functions had been damaged and doctors said he might never walk.

I made it my resolve to make sure he had every opportunity in life. In June 2010, I discovered a specialist hospital in Missouri in the US that offered pioneering surgery to improve his mobility and I felt like my prayers had been answered.

The only problem was I needed pounds 50,000 to pay for the operation and as a single mum I had no idea how I'd find that sort of money. But I decided to do everything I could to help my little boy walk.

My first step was to see if Dylan met the requirements of the surgery. I spent weeks sending videos of him along with MRI scans and his medical notes to doctors in Missouri. I couldn't believe our luck when Dylan was accepted on to the programme. My mum and I started brainstorming about how to raise the money.

I set up the Dylan's Dream fund and our first event was a fun day with a bouncy castle and cake stall. Next, I arranged a bag packing event in the local supermarket. Friends and family helped customers pack their groceries in return for a donation.

We had a series of race nights and even trekked up Mount Snowdon, the highest point in the UK, which raised pounds 15,000. I was amazed at the support we received.

And then, last October, I fought back my nerves to take part in a skydive. As the plane climbed above the clouds to 15,000ft I took a deep breath, pictured Dylan in my head and nodded to the instructor.

Falling through the air was terrifying and I burst into tears when we landed on the ground. But the jump took us pounds 2,350 closer to our target.

On December 23, I received the amazing news we'd reached pounds 50,000. It was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for. The operation - selective dorsal rhizotomy - would take place at the St Louis Children's Hospital, Missouri. The surgeons would cut off some of the abnormal nerves from Dylan's muscles leaving only the working ones intact.

Orthopaedic surgery would lengthen his muscles, which would greatly improve his balance.

Dylan, my mum and I flew to Missouri two months later and on February 22, Dylan was taken to the operating theatre.

I was wracked with nerves but focused on the thought of Dylan as an adult, able to walk on his own. The surgery took three hours, and after what felt like a lifetime, a doctor brought the news that the operation had been a success.

We stayed in Missouri for five weeks as Dylan recovered. He astounded everyone with his progress - one doctor even called him a 'miracle child'. He spent every day in physio with splints on his legs and although he'd been through so much, he rarely complained. His beaming smile was soon back.

Today Dylan has a new lease of 'life. His mobility and posture has improved as his muscles are stronger. He zooms about on his specially designed tricycle, and there are no tears when he gets dressed for school now as his arms and legs aren't so stiff.

It's early days but Dylan's future finally looks bright. Every day his muscles are getting stronger and he can walk further with his frame. He's even stood on his own for a few minutes.

It's amazing to see Dylan's face light up when he realises what he can do. He'll never have a normal life but thanks to the surgery he'll have more independence.

Fiona Storey, 25, lives in Scunthorpe with her sons Dylan, six, and Logan, two.



BOND: Dylan with Mum Fiona
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2011
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