The NHS is unable to fund a life-changing Innowalk for Jessica Fairchild so her family launched a £24,000 fundraising campaign
The family of a 12-year-old Exeter girl who is unable to walk are embarking on a massive fundraising mission to buy a piece of life-changing equipment that is not available on the NHS.
Jessica Fairchild was born at 27 weeks weighing just 1 kilogram, and against the odds pulled through. However, doctors discovered she had a bleed of the brain and at the age of two-and-a-half years old she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
For the West Exe School pupil it means she relies on a wheelchair and requires daily physiotherapy to help stretch her tight muscles. What she craves more than anything is independence and to be more like other children her age, but to help achieve a bit of that means raising £24,000 to buy an Innowalk.
It is a powerful 3-in-1 device which looks like a cross trainer and is for sitting, standing and moving, and allows safe and comfortable movement for the user.
Jessica said: “It has been specially designed for people with disabilities and looks a bit like a cross trainer but has lots of support to help hold me in right position. I can exercise in it sitting down, standing up or just practice standing in it, it has remote control that I can use by myself to decide what I want to do.
“I have had two assessments using one and I just love it, it’s great being able to exercise like everybody else can.”
Ever since she was born Jessica’s life has been filled with lots of hospital and doctor’s appointments.
Her mum Katherine recalled: “My pregnancy with Jessica was completely normal and then when I had a bleed I was told to come into hospital. I was expecting to be checked over and then go home, but I was told the baby needed to come and it was only I discovered my placenta had come away.
“Jessica was so small when she was born that my husband’s hand was practically the same size as her.
“As she was out first we didn’t know what to expect but by the age of nine months she was not reaching milestones like she should, but we were told we had to factor in how premature she was.
“It was not until she was about 12 months old that the alarm bells started ringing. She was referred to Honeylands when she was around 14 months old and a consultant said she had global development delay.
“She was not sitting up and couldn’t roll over. She didn’t sit up independently until she was nearly three years old.”