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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Brave Cumbrian tot could be set to take her first steps

Little Lillie-Mai Jackson could soon be taking her first steps even though she had both her legs amputated when she was struck down by the deadly meningitis virus.

Lillie-Mae photo
Parents Belinda Little and Rupert Jackson with Lillie-Mai Jackson

Lillie-Mai bravely fought off the virus 19 months ago when she was just 14 weeks old, but she lost both her legs and one arm.

But on Monday the Maryport tot will hopefully get a new set of legs fitted which will help her to take her first steps.

The 22-month-old has been travelling to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield for the past three weeks to get fittings for the prosthetic limbs. They will replace the legs that she currently wears, which aren’t designed for walking on and are used to keep her balance. Her mum, 23-year-old Belinda Little, said: “It’s amazing the things they can do at Sheffield.

“Lillie-Mai’s doing absolutely fabulous. Even without the legs. She gets around by bum-shuffling and she is talking now.”

The legs have been made specially for Lillie-Mai and are slightly bigger than she needs now, meaning that she can grow with them. She will still have to go back to the hospital every three months to have them adjusted.

Her mum said that Lillie-Mai has found it hard and upsetting attending the hospital and trying on the legs.

“Having no legs is the norm for her and trying to get them on is hard – she just likes to get them off,” said Belinda. “She’s got to accept these legs are going to help her. We are just trying to encourage her. She wears the same shoes as me and she just smiles and gets on with it.”

A mammoth fundraising challenge is ongoing to fund more specialist legs which Lillie-Mai will wear when she turns five. They cost around £25,000 a pair and will have to be replaced regularly. The family will have to pay for those ones. The ones that she will wear up until that age are provided by the NHS.

“That’s why we’re trying to get a head start with raising money so we have got something there for when she turns five,” said Belinda.

“The support and generosity of people so far has been amazing and we want to say thank you to everyone from all of the family.”

And Belinda said the last 19 months have been extremely hard on the family – but things are looking better for the future.

Lillie-Mai starts nursery next month, the charity drive has nearly reached £90,000 and she will hopefully be starting to walk next week.

“It’s hard because you see other women with children and they don’t have disabilities – it’s quite difficult to cope with,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. It’s just an awful thing to happen to a child. But we are starting to come to terms with it.”

On Sunday Workington Town rugby league side donated just over £6,000 to the charity fund. The money was raised at the derby with Whitehaven in June.

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