Will to Walk: Eight-year-old Croydon girl fundraising for life-changing operation


Scarlet Hewitt needs £65,000 to fund an operation in America


By Jaskaran Bahia

An eight-year-old girl with cerebral palsy is raising £65,000 for a life-changing procedure in the U.S.A.

Due to complications at birth, Scarlet Hewitt of New Addington, Croydon, was diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) leaving her unable to stand unaided and often in great pain.

If the target is reached by September, Scarlett will travel to St Louis Children’s hospital in Missouri to receive an operation which promises decreased discomfort and the possibility of walking freely.

Scarlett’s mother, Lisa Hewitt, said: “When you’ve had a child who’s had to rely on an aide to get around, or go to the bathroom, or get dressed and undressed, you read the prognosis and you just think ‘wow, this is just amazing’.

“We can’t let this slip through our hands, we have to give Scarlett this opportunity to change her life.”

Dr Tae Sung Park will administer the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) in October, a procedure for which NHS funding was cut while Scarlett was on the waiting list.

Dr Park has performed SDRs, which involves severing some nerves in the spinal column in order to loosen muscles and reduce spasticity, more than 2,600 times.

“We’ve been down this route before, when she had heart survey when she was born, and we’re scared about the risks but with Dr Park’s 100% record, we have faith a lot of in him,” Mrs Hewitt said.

“It was a difficult time when the funding was cut, but now we’ll hopefully be using the top SDR surgeon in the world, so in some ways it worked out for the best.”

Scarlett’s wish2walk campaign has so far raised over £18,000 and is supported by a team of family, friends and even strangers organising fund-raising events which include a sponsored swim, a skydive and fun days.

Moreover, Scarlett, a Crystal Palace fan, will be on the pitch for Manchester City’s visit to Selhurst Park this Sunday.

Mrs Hewitt said: “She’s really excited. She’s been to a couple of games with her dad, but she doesn’t like Alice or Pete, the Eagles, so hopefully they’ll be on the other end of the pitch.”

The family hopes that with public support  Scarlett will soon be able to run around and play with her younger sisters, Sienna, 7, and Saffron, 3.

“You hear a lot of bad things in the world, but once you get in a situation like this, you realise the public are pretty amazing. We can’t thank them enough really,” she said.

“We were put into a situation where we have to go to the other side of the world, but if our experiences can help other families in a similar situation, that would be brilliant.”

Donations can be made at or by texting SCAR+amount wished to donate to 70070. If donations exceed the target, or if the target is not reached, the money will go to Tree of Hope charity to help other sick children.

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