When little Harlie was diagnosed at 18 months old with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, doctors predicted she would never sit, crawl, talk or walk. After years of physical therapy, Harlie started making gains. She was able to sit on her own but the spasticity was taking over her tiny body and causing constant pain.
In July 2016, Harlie was accepted for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA. The surgery is performed by world renouned neurosurgeron, Dr T.S. Park who predicted that within 12 months of surgery, Harlie will be able to walk. SDR is nothing shy of a miracle for adults and children who suffer from cerebral palsy, however, the surgery itself, travel and post surgery physical therapy costs totalled over $120,000.
The Harlie Russell Foundation was established by members of the Ferny Hills community in an effort to raise funds to allow Harlie and her mother, Jacqui, to travel to St Louis and change Harlie’s life. Many local businesses and individuals jumped on board the fundraising effort. By August 2017, the foundation had achieved their goal and Harlie set off on a life changing journey.
Harlie spent one month in the USA, underwent two proceedures and attended daily physical therapy. Her body was finally relieved of the spasticity that had caused years of pain and disfiguration of her legs. Harlie was now able to straighten her legs and stand with a smile.
Upon her return to Australia, Harlie joined PropelFit gym at Ashgrove to commence strength and conditioning training under her coach, Grant Jenkins. For five days each week, Harlie works tirelessly on building muscles in her whole body and is now able to stand with minimal assistance and has taken her very first steps in a walking frame.
There is a long road ahead for Harlie as she improves her indepedence each day. She is more confident with her abilities, no longer requires daily medication but the best news is, Harlie is pain free!
Harlie and her family would like extend a huge thank you to the hills community for their continuing support. The Harlie Russell Foundation are still raising funds for Harlie’s vital ongoing therapy and equipment. All donations to the foundation over $2 are tax deductible. If you would like to contribute to Harlie’s future, visit their website www.harlierussellfoundation.org