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Appeal for Zakk's op nears halfway stage

Published: 1 Feb 2014 17:300 comments

THE parents of a three-year-old boy in need of a life-changing operation have said they are “extremely lucky” as fundraising approaches the halfway stage.

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Since launching an official campaign, named Zakk’s First Step, in October, supporters have joined forces with the family to stage several fundraising events to reach the target.

The appeal aims to fund the operation to help three-year-old Zakk Burks, who suffers from severe quad spastic cerebral palsy.

The surgery should reduce his pain and allow him to eventually walk with the aid of a stick rather than rely on a wheelchair.

Zakk, from South Ascot, was refused an operation by hospitals in the UK because his condition was considered so severe, but he has been accepted for surgery in the USA later this year.

The operation itself costs £40,000, with the family just shy of reaching the £20,000 mark for this. The family is also looking to raise a further £20,000 to pay for Zakk’s long-term physiotherapy and equipment back home.

After the initial campaign launch dinner, Zakk’s family have said they have been blown away after residents have taken on challenges such as sky diving and abseiling, with two people in their 70s planning to run the Bracknell Half Marathon in April.

Melanie Burks, Zakk’s mum, said: “We have been extremely lucky with the continuing support from everyone.

“The operation is well within our grasp now and we would like to thank everyone for all of their fundraising efforts to help Zakk. It is an exciting time but also scary, too, as surgery is surgery. We are looking forward to the life that Zakk will lead afterwards.”

The family flew to St Louis in America back in early October to meet surgeon Dr Park – who said Zakk is a perfect candidate and the operation could take place this July.

The procedure – called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy – aims to reduce Zakk’s pain and relieve the tightness in his muscles which hinders him from walking.

Alan Carr, from the Ascot Lawyers Foundation, is working closely with the family to organise future fundraising events and is optimistic in reaching the amount.

“Zakk’s campaign is going really, really well and it’s great to see so many people organising their own fundraisers to help Zakk.

“I’m sure the operation will happen. The little lad will have a totally different life ahead of him once the operation is complete.

“To see Zakk take his first step will be amazing and it will give my life more meaning once he does.”

To donate to the appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/zakkyboy

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