HE’S the little boy with a big wish that most people take for granted – to be able to walk.
James Mills is unlike most other children his age because, despite being 22 months old, he has yet to take a single step without help.
Now his mum has made a heartrending plea to the people of Hampshire to ensure the toddler’s dream comes true – by enabling her to raise £50,000 for a vital operation.
James needs Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), which aims to improve mobility by cutting the faulty nerves responsible for muscle rigidity.
But Vicki Mills and her partner, Lee Barnes, 25, were devastated to discover that the life-changing surgery is not available on the NHS.
Parents Vicki Mills and Lee Barnes with son James
An emotional message on their Just Giving page says: “This treatment could make James walk.
“James wants to be like his mates.
It breaks my heart not seeing him take his first steps, kick a ball and run rings around me.
“Please make my son’s wish. He deserves a good life.”
As reported in the Daily Echo, James was born eight weeks premature at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton through an emergency C-section.
Vicki and Lee wanted to thank the hospital for the excellent care he received and recently held a charity evening that raised £1,586 for the neonatal unit.
Now the couple have embarked on a much more daunting challenge that is even closer to home.
Vicki, 27, of Hythe, said: “James is such a determined little boy – you can see he wants to walk.
“He uses a walking frame but gets very frustrated. He’s only able to take two steps properly – and that’s with a lot of help from me and my partner.”
She added: “Some procedures which I’d class as purely cosmetic are available on the NHS but the surgery needed by a 22-month-old boy isn’t, which seems very wrong to me.
Without the operation, my son won’t be able to walk unaided.”
Vicki and Lee are already planning a series of fundraising events, including a sponsored buggy walk, a cake sale and a ball at the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe.
Vicki said: “I just want to do everything in my power to help James.
“He’s a very happy and contented little boy – it’s amazing how he just gets on with it. It’s only recently that he’s started to get frustrated.”
A large sign that greets visitors to the family home reads: “My name is James. I’m 22-months-old. My wish is to walk.”
An NHS England spokesman confirmed that SDR was “not routinely funded” by the organisation.
He added: “We understand how difficult this is and sympathise with families who feel they may benefit from this treatment.
“However, the current evidence base does not yet demonstrate sufficient effectiveness for its routine use and we need to be assured of this.”
To help James go online at treeofhope.org.uk/stronger-and-stronger or justgiving.com/JamesWTW.