A student at a Cambridge college is fundraising for surgery in America, after being diagnosed with a rare condition.
Maddi Thurgood, 18, has been diagnosed with SPG15, a rare version of motor neurone disease that makes it difficult to walk.
She is the only person in the UK who has been diagnosed, and is one of less than 100 in the world.
The photography student at Cambridge Regional College is hoping to take surgery that will involve severing selective nerves in her spinal cord that cause her legs to go into paralysis.
It would mean she could walk unaided and reduce her pain. Currently, she uses a stick to walk, and is determined to not use a wheelchair.
Maddi’s condition is so rare that she has been the subject of research at Sheffield University for two years, where scientists are battling to find a cure for her condition.
The planned operation in the US will not cure her condition, but it can slow down the process making it increasingly difficult for her to walk.
Maddi’s mum Carina, who drives her daughter from their home in Finchingfield, Essex, to Cambridge Regional College three days a week, said: “We have two fund raising pots.
“One is to pay the science researchers in Sheffield, £240,000 so far, and the other is fund raising for £85,000 to pay for Maddi’s surgery in America and intensive physiotherapy afterwards.
“It has been difficult for us as a family. Maddi was energetic, full of life, a healthy normal teenager. Slowly she has gone downhill, seemingly from nowhere, when her ice skating teacher noticed she couldn’t lift her legs as high as she used to.
“We will do all we can to make sure she has good quality of life. Studying at CRC has been part of that journey for her. She loves learning photography. Not only has it been a great positive focus but the college tutors have been amazing.
“They always ask what help does she need, how can they support her. They always make sure she doesn’t feel pressure. We can’t thank them enough.”
Half the cost of the surgery, £45,000, has been raised so far, in conjunction with the Bradley Lowery Foundation that works with the Thurgood family.
To donate visit the Just Giving page justgiving.com/campaign/maddisdr
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