Little spina bifida sufferer Frankie Lavis walks to school for the first time – thanks to a pioneering op she had before she was born.
Children with the paralysing condition usually end up in a wheelchair.
But Frankie’s mum Gina became the first British mother to be offered revolutionary surgery while pregnant in 2014.
The NHS agreed to pay for the groundbreaking £10,000 operation at a Belgian clinic. Gina’s womb was lifted from her body at 25 weeks.
Doctors then punctured the uterus to operate on Frankie’s damaged spine, pushing exposed nerves that cause agonising spina bifida spasms back into the spinal membrane.
Four years on, and Frankie’s first steps in her new uniform give hope to all parents who receive the diagnosis during pregnancy.
Mum-of-four Gina, 39, of Plymouth, says: “I was so proud of her walking to school.
She sometimes needs aids or a rest in a wheelchair, but a lot of the time she can walk unaided. It’s remarkable.”
The operation’s effect was instant, with a post-surgery scan showing Frankie wiggling her legs in the womb.
But it wasn’t until two that she took her first steps.
Now she’s enjoying life at St Joseph’s Primary where her favourite activity is painting.
Gina – who pushed for the op after finding out about it online – says: “She loves school. We walk there every day. She might show more improvement. We don’t know.
It’s such a new procedure. Only a few children had had it before Frankie and we are full of appreciation for the team who carried it out.”
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