Family campaign for US surgery so Sienna can walk

A family is urgently fundraising to send their little girl for surgery in the US to help her walk.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 2:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 3:07 pm
Sienna Houghton PNL-161005-113719001
Sienna Houghton PNL-161005-113719001

Seven-year-old Sienna Houghton, from Stopsley, just wants to be able to play like her younger brothers.

But while 15-month-old Shylon, four year old Samuel and Shayen, six, are running around and playing on the swings, Sienna can only watch from her wheelchair.

She has cerebral palsy and, despite there being an operation that could help her walk, the NHS does not fund it. Her mum, Tanya Fernandes, 29, says the NHS decision means Sienna is excluded from other children’s games.

“Sienna is a lively little girl who really wants to be able to play with her three younger brothers.

“But she gets very frustrated when the other children are playing and she’s not able to join them. She tries to walk and that makes it even worse because she’s not a baby any more and, when she falls, she falls hard.”

The operation that could dramatically improve Sienna’s life is selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). It releases the tightness in Sienna’s legs and finally allow her to walk.

Tanya added: “It’s sad that children like Sienna can’t get the operation on the NHS when it’s been shown to be very effective. Yes, it’s expensive but in the long run, the children need less equipment and intensive support, their development improves and they and their families would have much better quality of life.”

The family is now organising a campaign to raise enough money to take Sienna to St Louis in America, where the pioneer surgeon, TS Park, carries out the operation.

The pressure is on to raise the money quickly because, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital, children who have SDR when they are young continue to improve walking in childhood and show little decline in their teens.

Tanya’s partner, Joseph, 39, is training for a sponsored 10k run at Starfish Races, in Bexhill, East Sussex, and is looking for sponsors to help him towards their target.

The Races, held on May 15, are organised by children’s charity, Tree of Hope, which is supporting Tanya and Joseph in their efforts to raise enough money to take Sienna to St Louis.

Fundraising manager, Emma Bourne said: “Imagine how it must feel to have a child born with a complex disability, or for your child to develop a serious illness, and to know that there is treatment that could improve their health and their lives but not be able to afford it.

“We are proud to be supporting Tanya and Joseph in their efforts.”

Sienna goes to Lady Zia Werner School in Ashcroft Road, Stopsley, where she follows a sensory-based curriculum. But Tanya says frequent falls means that Sienna is sometimes in too much pain to attend and so becomes even more frustrated.

Tanya said: “We would be so grateful if people could sponsor Joseph in the Starfish Races and put us a bit closer to giving Sienna a better life.”

To help Sienna get her operation visit her JustGiving page

For further information about Tree of Hope visit