A YOUNG couple has to find £45,000 to see their son walk unaided for the first time.

Those steps will lead little Ellis Jones into a whole new life but to take them he needs cutting edge surgery in the USA.

So mum Tara Scott and dad Craig Jones of Whitecross, Hereford, have launched a huge fund-raising effort for the money to make that happen.

“It is a massive amount, way beyond anything we can think of. But what price do you put on your child?” says Tara.

More than 2,000 supporters from across the county and beyond who have already signed up to the Ellis Happy Feet Fund say the same.

Ellis’s life was on the line as soon as he was born, eight week’s prematurely and with oxygen complications at Hereford County Hospital.

It was touch and go and there were times when Tara and Craig wondered whether he was going to make it.

Having endured all that, they then heard Ellis had cerebral palsy, of a type that stops his legs working.

Now two years old, the otherwise active and bright Ellis mostly crawls to get about but can use a walker.

But as he gets older he’ll have to rely on a wheelchair.

Surgery in the USA could see him walking independently for the rest of his life, and this week the family heard that Ellis was an “excellent” candidate for that procedure.

The confirmation came from one of the USA’s top paediatric centres, the St Louis Children’s Hospital, Missouri, which specialises in selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).

That involves severing those sensory nerve fibres sending abnormal messages from muscles to the spine.

SDR is cutting edge stuff and a very precise, invasive procedure than can take several hours to complete.

Use of SDR in the UK is selective. In the USA, however, its application is far more advanced with a recorded success rate to match. And in the States surgeons are willing to undertake an SDR operation on a child of Ellis’s age. In the UK such an operation on a child under five would be rare.

Tara and Craig say Ellis needs the surgery before his condition seriously debilitates what the surgery could do.

SDR is not a “cure” for cerebral palsy but a treatment for the associated spasticity. Tara and Craig learned all about it online ahead of their application to St Louis.

All told, the family has to find about £45,000 to cover procedure and their four weeks in the USA.

Ellis himself will need extensive physiotherapy for sometime afterwards.

So far, well over 2,000 supporters have signed up to the Ellis’s Happy Feet Facebook site the couple have set up and they are starting to sort through offers of fundraising activities.

There’s a special HSBC account for individual donations too – the Ellis’s Happy Feet Fund, branch sort code 402411, account number 620 400 85.

The family is also looking to “borrow” a charity number to use while seeking a number of their own.