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Money raised by Tenterden people to pay for £20,000 operation that could help disabled Christian Fortunato walk unaided

By Tricia Jamieson

The generosity of the people of Tenterden means a disabled boy can have an operation which could help him walk unaided.

The parents of Christian Fortunato are waiting for a date for the surgery which may mean the six-year-old will no longer need his wheelchair and walking frame.
They have been fundraising for five months to meet the costs and now have enough to book the £20,000 procedure.

Six-year-old Christian Fortunato
Six-year-old Christian Fortunato

Max Fortunato, who runs Costa Coffee in Tenterden High Street, said: “We are overwhelmed by people’s generosity and want to thank them all.
“We only started fundraising last October, but have enough money to book the operation.
“It is a terrific achievement and is what we have been working for – we can’t thank people who have donated enough.

“This has only been possible because of their generosity. They have been amazing.”

Christian suffers from spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. His legs are in a permanent spasm and he cannot put his feet down flat so has to use a walker or wheelchair to get about.

He has been accepted for an operation, selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), by Leeds General Infirmary. It would cut the nerves in his spine, hopefully enabling him to put his feet down flat and improve his balance.

Christian Fortunato, six, is pushed round the Hastings Half-marathon course by Ashley Varley surrounded by supporters
Christian Fortunato, six, is pushed round the Hastings Half-marathon course by Ashley Varley surrounded by supporters

But the NHS has stopped funding the surgery, meaning Christian will have to go privately.
Mr Fortunato, 41, and his partner Kelly Roast, 29, launched a £30,000 fundraising appeal for the operation and aftercare.

“The operation costs £20,000 and we have enough money to book it,” said Mr Fortunato. “We have asked for a date at the end of April or beginning of May as we want Christian to enjoy the summer.

“We also want to take him to Italy to see my family, which we could not do last summer as Kelly was expecting our second son, Oliver, and was advised not to travel.”
Christian is likely to spend four weeks in hospital followed by several months of physiotherapy.

Mr Fortunato said: “We have so many pledges still to come in.
“If we need more money for the physiotherapy, we will carry on fundraising but we are going to take a break from that for a while to be a family again.”

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