THE parents of a disabled boy need donations to fund a groundbreaking operation to help him walk for the first time.

Ben Gannon, aged six, of Malvern, is confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, and his parents need help to finance the operation at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, so he can walk with a walking frame or crutches.

The trip will cost about £45,000, and the family hope the money can be raised through their own fund-raising efforts, including a parachute jump by Ben’s dad, Rick, and donations from the public.

The operation, physiotherapy and therapy equipment will cost about £37,000 and the remaining £8,000 is for flights, accommodation, equipment and expenses.

Ben’s parents hope he can go to the US for the operation on Monday, April 25.

During the procedure, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, the surgeon cuts the nerves from the muscles enough to weaken them so that they will not work so strongly, giving other muscles a chance to strengthen and work against the thigh muscles.

Ben’s mum, 35-year-old Lorraine Gannon, said: “It’s not a miracle cure, but it’s going to make him much more independent and make our lives easier.

"It’s a huge operation. It’s putting our little boy through a huge emotional rollercoaster and I’m dreading the day he has it done when I hand over his care to somebody else.

“The doctors say he should be able to walk with a frame and possibly with crutches.”

Ben got the chance to meet Malvern’s X-Factor star Cher Lloyd, who kissed him and gave him a signed photograph at her homecoming concert at the Three Counties Showground in December.

In the future, the operation may be available in the UK, subject to the NHS approving the procedure.

The family have been told that the benefits of the procedure are greater the sooner it is done and it can be done without a wait a wait in the US.

Ben’s parents say Henry Ford, a boy in the same class as Ben at Megan Baker House, a charity which runs free sessions of conductive education, had better use of his legs after the same operation.

She added: “At that first appointment, when I had put Ben back in the car, he said to me ‘Mummy, I can’t walk can I? Can you teach me how to walk please?’ “This made me think how unfair it was that Ben could not achieve simple independence of getting about in this world.”

To help Ben, visit