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Austin Manning has spent the last eight weeks learning to walk.
For the last eight years he had been confined to a wheelchair and reliant on his parents or those around him to get around. But after undergoing surgery in America he is taking his first steps towards independence.
Austin is one of 7000 in New Zealand with cerebral palsy. He also suffers from periventricular leukomalacia (a brain injury), asymmetric spastic quadriplegia, developmental delay and has problems with his vision.
Over the past year his mother Helen Manning, along with his father Brett and older brother Thomas, rallied the Bay of Plenty community with fundraisers, community events and a glitterati dinner hosted by the Chiefs rugby team to help raise money for their lovable little boy.
In less than a year, they raised over $120,000 to get Austin to the St Louis Children's Hospital to undergo surgery which would relieve the spasticity of his limbs caused by his cerebral palsy.
Austin, accompanied by his parents and grandmother, Sandy, flew out to the America on May 11 and underwent the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), on May 19.
The procedure involved sectioning (cutting) some of the sensory nerve fibres which come from the muscles and enter the spinal cord.
Because of all the hard work Austin had been doing before the operation the hospital was able to offer another operation too, bilateral gastroc lengthening. This meant Austin would be able to walk in a straight line instead of his legs scissoring.
Austin's mum Helen Manning said she was a nervous wreck when her youngest child was wheeled away from her for the first operation.
"My legs were shaking, but him, he was just amazing. They made him so comfortable. "On his way into surgery Austin and nurses were telling each other jokes."
Every half an hour a nurse from theatre called the private room Austin's family were waiting in to let them know everything was going according to plan. When the surgery was finished, Austin's doctor came into the room and talked them through how successful operation had been, she said.
"As soon as he was okay, they got him out of bed and put him into his wheelchair but that was one of the hardest and scariest things for me.