A SALTCOATS family have expressed their gratitude after a £10,000 fundraising target was smashed in less than a week.

And they want to use their experience to raise awareness for other families who could be in a similar situation.

Six-year-old Holly McLeod was born at just 25 weeks and spent the first three months of her life in hospital.

Now she will travel to the USA, with her mum, dad and brother, for an operation that will help her to walk.

Holly, who goes to St Anthony’s Primary in Saltcoats has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair in day-to-day life but her mum Nicola explained that they had been accepted for SDR (Selective dorsal rhizotomy) treatment in Missouri.

Nicola told the Herald: “We only came across this operation because my husband was researching and how we can help her and he came across Dr Park and it kind of went from there.

“It’s been years in the making, researching, working out if it would benefit Holly so it has been a bit of a rollercoaster but we finally sent everything away to Dr Park.

“We had to get x-rays, an MRI scan, a video of her movement patterns and once we had that collated, we sent it away to him in St Louis in Missouri and after six weeks we got the email to say she was a suitable candidate, and that was amazing.

“He has seen a lot of children similar to Holly, has treated thousands of patients and he believes that Holly will have a much easier life, movement wise, and she will probably walk with a frame and possibly canes.”

The operation, travel, accommodation and aftercare cost around £80,000 and the family decided tentatively to fundraise through JustGiving and were blown away by the response as they hit their target of £10,000 in less than a week.

Nicola added: “Family and close friends said we need to get a Just Giving page, they were saying that everyone wants to help and asking what they could do.

“Eventually we agreed to it but we didn’t want to at first.

“£80,000 is everything. Surgery, equipment afterwards, travel, rehab and everything else we need.

“She has a private physio and a personal trainer.

“Basically, we need to get her as strong as possible, basically all the spasticity in her legs will be taken away.

“I never thought we would get anywhere near £10,000, it took a lot to put £10,000 as the target because it just seems like quite a lot of money. We will probably leave it open and I won’t change the target.

“It’s more about raising awareness, however we are more concerned about letting people know that this is out there and hopefully getting it to this country.”

Although the operation isn’t currently carried out in the UK, Nicola and husband James are keen to spread the word about the treatment Holly is set to receive and hope other families can get help if they need it.

Nicola said: “Now we are trying to raise awareness for other families who might be in this situation.

“It is not available for Holly in this country. We went down to the Portland Hospital in London and had her reviewed privately because they do it down there but she didn’t fit the criteria they have in this country it’s very strict and I think it’s because it’s a fairly new procedure. They don’t have the case studies and backlog to see what it is like further down the line.

“I do think that in time it will be available and the more awareness we can raise, the better. There could be families in our situation who could have no idea about this.”

Holly was premature and things were touch and go in the early stages of her life but the youngster is going from strength to strength.

She enjoys school and has a great bunch of friends and also enjoys horse racing and attends race runners where she uses an adapted bike.

These activities are not just fun but also help Holly.

The fundraising hasn’t stopped at the JustGiving page with a 12-mile walk from Crosshouse Hospital planned for next month as well as other events to ensure the money is raised.

As we went to print, the total amount raised was £13,700.

Nicola said: “I’d just like to thank everybody, it’s been amazing, the response has been amazing and I don’t know how I am going to thank everyone.

“We want to thank the school and all friends and family who have offered to help and do other fundraising.

“It’s very, very nice and very overwhelming.

If you would like to donate, you can do so by clicking here or you can keep up to date with Holly and her journey by searching for ‘Holly’s Journey’ on Facebook.