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Matthew is inspiring.. he's always smiling despite the challenges; Boy, 5, makes strides in walk battle.

Byline: ORLAITH CLINTON

MATTHEW Fitzpatrick's parents were told he would never be able to walk - but the youngster is determined to prove doctors wrong and make his dreams come true.

The five-year-old from Downpatrick, Co Down, was born 10 weeks early on May 8, 2014, and was later diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia and cerebral palsy.

In June last year, Matthew underwent life-changing selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery in Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, and has been following an intensive physiotherapy regime to strengthen his legs.

Since this operation, Matthew is now standing on his own and using his walker to go up and down his hallway.

Mum Louise told the Mirror she knows her son will walk one day. The childminder, 39, said: "Matthew's muscles in his legs were so tight, so what the surgery did was cut the nerves that were keeping Matthew's muscles so restricted.

"When he came out from the surgery his legs were like jelly but we just had to work on strengthening the muscle again.

"It was a difficult decision to make as a family. Matthew wasn't ill and he was healthy and happy, so to make the decision to put him through what he went through was tough.

"On the day of the surgery we began to doubt ourselves and panic, thinking, 'Have we done the right thing?' "Looking back, it was absolutely the right thing to do for Matthew. He took it all in his stride.

"He didn't complain once during the three weeks in Liverpool and the difference we have seen in Matthew since the surgery has been amazing."

The Fitzpatricks then signed their son up to physiotherapy class Swim Lab in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone.

She added: "He has made so much progress from March since starting Swim Lab and it is unbelievable how far he has come.

"He just works so hard and I think he needs some praise and recognition.

"He does get tired from the training but he has never asked us to go home, or to not go.

"He gives it his all each time. Everyone has been brilliant.

"Our community have organised fun runs, pub quizzes and fun days.

"It has been really touching we have so much support from friends, family and even strangers.

Sinn Fein councillor Oonagh Hanlon has been heavily involved in the fundraising efforts.

She told the Mirror: "Matthew is a truly inspiring young boy. Despite the challenges he has faced he is always smiling.

"As parents Jimmy and Louise have worked tirelessly to ensure Matthew has the opportunities many of us take for granted."

LOVED With mum Louise irish@mgn.co.uk

10 Number of weeks premature Matthew was on May 8, 2014 2018 Year little Matthew had life-changing surgery in Liverpool It has been really touching that we have so much support from friends and family LOUISE FITZPATRICK co down yesterday

CAPTION(S):

HAVING A BALL On gym

TRAINING On the treadmill

one step at a time Matthew Fitzpatrick from Co Down

LOVED With mum Louise

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 29, 2019
Words:504
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