Twins get go ahead from surgeon in America

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CARNOUSTIE twins Ayley and Chloe Hirsch are one step closer to their life-changing operation after receiving some long awaited news.

The girls’ mother, Averil Fleming, (32) told the Guide & Gazette how delighted she was to hear that both girls have had their applications for surgery accepted.

And she has praised the support of the local community after yet another bumper weekend of fund-raising took the total to £40,000. “Now that we have reached the halfway mark we are hoping to get out to America in December, perhaps the beginning of January. This weekend alone we raised over £4,000,” said Averil.

A benefit gig in aid of Ayley and Chloe was held on Saturday night in Dexters, Dundee, and raised over £1,800. According to Averil, Carnoustie band Declaration “had the place jumping” and newcomers Lost City Soul helped Dexters reach capacity.

Help has also been on hand from the parents of Jack McNaughton, a toddler from Perthshire who has already undergone the operation successfully.

Averil told the Gazette “After I read the emails from the hospital I spent two hours on the ‘phone to Jack’s mum discussing the emails and going over the details of the operation.”

She described the McNaughtons’ support as “phenomenal” and added “in a week’s time we are all going through to spend the day with them.”

The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) operation will give both girls a greater quality of life. It is hoped that Chloe, the worst afflicted of the pair, will be able to walk with the aid of a stick, while her sister Ayley will be able to walk unaided.

The operation will be carried out by Dr Park, a surgeon with 20 years experience of SDR operations, at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri. During the surgery an incision will be made at the base of the spine allowing the vertebrae to be extracted and their nerve endings tested and repaired.

According to Averil, Dr Park on average carries out three of these operations a day and, to date, has a success rate of 100 per cent. He was also recognised by the St. Louis Magazine as a ‘Best Doctor in America’ 2010.

Events taking place this week include a cheque presentation from the staff at Ladbrokes, Clepington Road, Dundee. Thursday will see Dundee footballer Rab Douglas and his wife Debbie get behind the cause at a photo shoot.

The Queen’s Hotel in Dundee will play host to a sponsored Waxing Night, where the plucky kitchen staff and some family friends have pledged to have their legs waxed. Hopefully, the buffet and wine provided will go some way to easing their pain.

On Tuesday afternoon, Carnoustie Business Association, organisers of the town’s Tartan Week celebrations, presented a cheque to the girls for £359.

Kathleen Crowe of the CBA told the Gazette: “We have always said that any profits made by the CBA should be put back into the community, and we could not think of a better cause to benefit.

“How could you ignore the plight of these wee girls and their need for this surgery that is sadly not available in this country.

“We felt that because this was locally raised money, and it was predominantly local people who attended the events that this was a fitting idea.

“We are more than delighted to be able to help even just a wee bit. This is our way of helping, by giving back to the community that supports us.”

The CBA also made a small donation to the Carnoustie Pipe Band for their role during the week-long celebrations.