BAILEY Jankovic looks like any other 10-year-old boy, so it is hard to imagine the mammoth surgery that has allowed him to walk independently.
The Berwick boy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months old and three years ago underwent an aggressive five-hour surgery which saw his legs cut into six, his bones turned and rebolted.
Although doctors said he would never walk unassisted, after 16 surgeries he is now walking proudly and promoting the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Step-a-thon.
Mum Michelle said before the major surgery had always walked with a walker or crutches.
“He is now hands-free, without crutches or a walker,” she said.
“It just makes it worth it. Being a 10-year-old and not having to hold Mum’s hand means he is a lot happier in himself and a lot more independent.”
He still undergoes daily physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
Early intervention by the Hugh Williamson Gait Analysis Laboratory meant doctors could film and compare how Bailey’s walking changed as he aged.
The team could then determine the best surgery option – which for Bailey included the mammoth surgery to untwist his legs.
“They video-taped his walking patterns so all the surgeons could watch Bailey walk,” she said.
“It was just outstanding. You forget how bad he walked and how twisted his legs were. They did such a great job.”
The family were quick to jump on board and support the Step-a-thon.
“Telling his story is to encourage other families that come across major multi-level surgeries and encourage others to give towards research,” Ms Jankovic said.
“You don’t see in one day that Children’s Hospital has done so much for Bailey so there was no second thought about jumping in and saying yes.”
Bailey is ‘very excited and very chuffed’ to be involved – and get walking.
“He’s already told me he is registering and will be getting all his friends at school on board,” Ms Jankovic said.
“He wants to do as many kilometres as he can.”
Bailey plans on walking around the block after school each day and younger sister Jazmin has said she will do the same – although Bailey is quite a bit slower.
The Step-a-thon raises money for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute by children encouraging sponsors for the number of steps they take between Monday 2 September and Sunday 8 September.
Register by Friday 9 August and you will receive a free pedometer. For more information about the Step-a-thon or to register visit www.stepathon.com.au