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Monday, November 12, 2012


Meet Xavier

This is Xavier.

Once a week, I take my son to a physiotherapy playgroup. For me, it's a peace-of-mind measure, and to him it's just fun: he's a bit of late walker and the physios keep an eye on him. We don't have to worry about anything worse, because with my Nat, it's just one of those variations in development that every child has. Some walk early, some walk late, and Nat is of the latter group. No biggie. He's going to be fine. We're the lucky ones.

Xavier also attends that group. Cheerful and intrepid, he wheels around on his walker or props himself up at tables, his small legs dragging behind him. Today he tolerated Nat's attempts to queue-jump him for the cross-trainer very patiently, making no attempt to thump the importuning younger boy getting in the way of his fun. He played with the toys, he hugged his mummy, he joined in the singing and did the actions like a champ. Xavier is a darling, and Xavier has cerebral palsy.

If nothing is done, he is heading for life in a wheelchair. There is, however, a pioneering surgery known as SDR which might - performed soon, and by an experienced doctor who wouldn't make the mistakes that in unlucky cases lead to paralysis, pain and incontinence - make it possible to get Xavier fully on his feet.

Only or or two such operations are performed in the UK every month, and every year, two thousand children are born with cerebral palsy. If Xavier is going to get the help he needs, his parents can't play those odds. Their best chance is to take him to Dr TS Park in the St Louis Children's Hospital, an expert who has been performing SDR surgery, with an excellent success rate, for the last twenty years.

Making that happen is going to cost £70,000. 

His parents are working hard to raise the money, and they've done some pretty impressive things already, but seventy thousand pounds is a fortune and they have a long way to go.

I'm making the appeal on two fronts.

First, if you can donate even a small amount, please do: every penny helps. If you can spread the word on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, or around your friends and colleagues, please do that too.

Second: blog posts for sale! For everyone who's prepared to donate £20, I will do a blog post on request. I'll answer questions about writing; I'll give advice for approaching publishers; I'll review the work of art or the author of your choice; I'll do a first-sentence piece; I'll play agony aunt; I'll compose a limerick; I'll put up a copy of your poem; I'll lend you the space so you can tell your Valentine you love them; I'll write a brief description of you for all the world to see; I'll compose a hymn of praise to your cat... Up to you. Anything. The only limits are your own imagination and the laws of the land. (So nothing that violates copyright, please, but anything original, be my guest.) Twenty quid to Xavier, and you can take your pick.

Let's all help Xavier. It's the right thing to do, and trust me: if you met him, you'd like him too.

Hey Kit, I don't know if you're on twitter, but I know that sometimes Eddie Izzard retweets requests for help like this when people send them to him, and he's got a very big following. Just thought I'd suggest it.
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