Boy, 4, told he'd never walk takes first steps after private surgery

Four-year-old with severe cerebral palsy walks for the first time after his parents saved £10,000 for life-changing surgery to repair nerves in his spine

  • Bleu Greenwood, from Leicester, has the most severe form of cerebral palsy 
  • Told he’d need a wheelchair for his entire life and would never walk unaided
  • But parents forked out £10,000 for private surgery which has made him mobile
  • The youngster needs a walking frame as the muscles in his legs are so weak

A four-year-old boy who was told he’d never walk has taken his first steps with the help of a walker after his parents saved up for a £10,000 operation.

Bleu Greenwood, from Leicester, was diagnosed with the most severe form of cerebral palsy at four months old.

He suffered uncontrollable jerks and struggled to hold his own head up because his muscles were so weak.

His parents were told their son would be resigned to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and he wasn’t eligible for NHS-funded surgery.

But, determined to help him overcome his disability, they scrimped and saved until they had enough to pay for a private op to repair damaged nerves in his spine.

And last month Bleu was filmed strolling into Wigston Menphys Nursery School in his hometown.

Bleu Greenwood, from Leicester, beams with joy as he takes his first steps into nursery with the help of a walking frame

His parents – Rielle Chapple, 27, and father Dale Greenwood, 28 -were told he’d never be able to walk unaided due to his severe cerebral palsy

Bleu has stage five cerebral palsy – the most severe kind – which prevented him from having surgery on the NHS because of its low success rate.

His mother Rielle Chapple, 27, and father Dale Greenwood, 28, refused to accept his prognosis and started researching private treatments.

They raised £10,000 so he could have surgery to correct nerves in his spine which were sending abnormal signals to his muscles, causing them to contract and stiffen. 

The procedure is called a selective dorsal rhizotomy and Bleu had it at a hospital in Nottingham in June this year. 

After five months of post-operation physiotherapy, Bleu was finally able to take his first steps on November 13.

His mother, a former restaurant manager and now his full-time carer, said: ‘It was the most emotional moment of my life.

‘It was so lovely and overwhelming to see because we never ever thought it would happen. It just shows how determined he is and we are so proud of him.

Bleu has stage five cerebral palsy – the most severe kind – which precluded him from surgery on the NHS because of its low success rate

His parents raised £10,000 so he could have surgery to correct nerves in his spine which were sending abnormal abnormal signals to his muscles, causing them to contract and stiffen

The youngster is pictured cuddling into his mother after recovering from the operation in June


The most severe form of the condition which causes sufferers to not be able to use their legs, arms and bodies.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects a patient’s movement, motor skills and muscle tone.

It affects around one in 400 children born in the UK to some extent.

In the US, approximately 8,000-to-10,000 infants are born with the condition each year.

Stage five spastic cerebral palsy is generally caused by brain damage before, during or shortly after birth.

This may be due to infections, toxin exposure or medical negligence.

Symptoms include:

  • Muscles that rapidly contract and release
  • Joints that cannot stretch or move
  • Muscle tightness and tremors
  • Speech impediments
  • An inability to walk
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive issues

Sufferers may develop limb and foot deformities, as well as curvature of the spine.

Swallowing and respiratory difficulties can also occur.

Treatment includes medication and physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Surgery may also be necessary.

Source: Cerebral Palsy Guidance

‘We all had a massive celebration when he did walk for the first time. Everyone was crying because it was such a happy moment. And you could see how happy it made him.’

Bleu was born on August 27, 2015, at Leicester Royal Infirmary. His mother said it became became clear ‘something wasn’t right’ a few hours after his birth.

She said: ‘He was doing weird jerking movements and I knew something was wrong. Then when he was 10 days old he started having seizures.

‘By the time he got to four months he wasn’t hitting any milestones and that’s when we got the diagnosis.

‘They said it was the most severe case of cerebral palsy and said he’d never be able to talk. But they also said even with surgery he’d never walk.’

Bleu’s has stage five cerebral palsy – the kind with the most limited movement – so was not eligible for an operation on the NHS.

But his parents refused to take no for an answer and started fundraising when he was just ten months old.

They finally raised £10,000 so he could have selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery privately in June.

His mother added: ‘We wanted to do anything we could to help him. We have fundraised for this operation his whole life, but it is only really beneficial to him if it is followed by intense therapy.’

Following the operation, Bleu travelled all over the UK for intense physiotherapy sessions, costing £90 an hour.

And after five months of sessions, the youngster was finally able to take his first steps in the park using his walker, on November 13.

A day later he dazzled his friends and teachers by strolling into nursery with his walking frame.

His mother said: ‘He has made so much progress since surgery and has improved massively. 

He has no pain now and is on a really good path moving forwards. We will try to get the best out of him, for his sake.’

His great strides come despite him being hospitalised for infections and breathing difficulties in January.

At the time his mother and catering manager father were told to ‘prepare for the worst’.

But little Bleu, who has also battled pneumonia, staphylococcus infection and sepsis twice, pulled through.

Bleu’s parents aren’t sure what the future holds. Ms Chapple said: ‘He is very severe and does have a shortened life expectancy.

‘For us we just want to make him as happy as we can for as long as we can. I want to make him smile as much as we can.

‘The operation has made him more independent and has improved his quality of life massively.’

To donate toward Bleu’s medical and physiotherapy bills, visit here 

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