The girl known as Baby Charlotte will today, for the first time, walk off a plane on her own using her new prosthetic legs.

Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman will touch down in Auckland this morning after spending three weeks overseas training to walk.

The 7-year-old from Waiheke Island became a household name when, in 2004, she partly lost both her legs and arms to meningococcal disease.

This year, her family and friends rallied together to fundraise towards getting her new legs, at a cost of around $19,000, and hundreds of people from around the country and overseas made donations.


For the past few weeks she has been in the US with parents Pam Cleverley and Perry Bisman attending Camp No Limits - a camp for children with limb loss. There she was mentored by a young American man named Cameron Clapp, who lost his legs and an arm when he was hit by a train at the age of 15.

Charlotte's father told the Herald Mr Clapp encouraged Charlotte to persevere through the pain.

"So if she wanted to go anywhere or join in the activities, she had to walk there," Mr Bisman said in an email.

After a few days of wearing her prosthetics all day, his little girl finally started to get used to her new legs, he said.

"Charlotte would have pools of perspiration in the bottom of her liners but hardly any bruising or discolouration," he said.

"She had worked through the pain barrier and her prosthetics had finally moulded to her pitted amputation scar tissue that covers her upper thighs."

While in the US, the family also sought advice from a leading paediatric prosthetic specialist.

Charlotte will now continue training herself to walk so her back becomes straighter and she is fitter.

After this, the family plan to head back to the United States in a few months to see if she is able to get a new type of prosthetics, which are more comfortable.

Mr Bisman said the process would be an annual event, given Charlotte is still growing and therefore growing out of her prosthetics in a matter of a few months.