A toddler will undergo pioneering surgery that could stop her losing the ability to walk.

Three-year-old Caitlin Ford, who has cerebral palsy, is set to have potentially life-changing neurosurgery this summer in time her for to start school.

Left untreated, Caitlin, who lives with her family in South Croydon, could be forced to use a wheelchair by the time she is a teenager.

The toddler, who diagnosed with spastic diplegia when she was 20 months old, can currently only walk short distances before she tires and often falls over due to poor balance - symptoms that deteriorate with age.

But Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), a ground-breaking spinal procedure not routinely offered on the NHS, could help preserve the use of her legs.

Her mum, Sorcha, 41, said:  "The chances are she will learn new motor skills - she will be able to jump better, she might learn to run, she might able to hop - but the most important thing is it will keep her on her feet."

Caitlin will undergo the £25,000 surgery on at Great Ormond Street Hospital later this year.

Her parents - Sorcha and dad Irwin, 40 - hope she will recover in time to join her eight-year-old brother Kian at St Peter’s Primary School in September.

She would be the first child in Croydon to undergo the treatment.

Her mum, a psychiatric nurse, said: "It is a life-changing operation for her and for us as a family.

"It is a massive thing for us as a family because it means we can look forward instead of dreading that she will lose mobility and won’t be able to join in things her peers can do, or worrying what it will do to her career choices.

"She will always have cerebral palsy - there is no cure for that - but it needn’t hold her back."

SDR involves surgeons cutting out faulty nerve fibres that send wrong messages to the patient’s legs.

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Caitlin with dad Irwin, brother Kian and mum Sorcha

Although Caitlin’s procedure will be funded by the NHS, she will need months of physiotherapy sessions afterwards- with the £30,000 cost paid for by her family. 

They have raised by £6,000 already - helped by friends and Kian’s school. They are appealing for help to raise the rest.

The Old Whitgiftians are helping out by holding a quiz night on July 12.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to Caitlin’s treatment can do so at justgiving.com/caitlinsmissionappeal