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An arachnoid cyst that put pressure on a young boy’s spine has left him paralysed from the waist down. Now he needs a wheelchair but local statutory services won’t provide one for a child his age. Emerson Grant, from Weybridge in Surrey, is two years old today (December 15). He has recently been discharged from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which is renowned for its spinal injuries unit. While he was there, Emerson was able to use a manual wheelchair, propelling it himself, so he could keep up with his friends on the ward.

Mum Anna-Marina Dearsley said: “Having the use of a wheelchair was great for Emerson. Before this happened he was a very active boy – walking, running, climbing and enjoying his new found football club Kiddie Kicks. The wheelchair allowed Emerson to have independence despite having no feeling in his legs – he was able to play and keep up with his friends whilst in the hospital. Emerson has good upper body strength and can now roll, and is learning to commando crawl – but I don’t like to think that this is the only way he can get around independently. He really wants to be mobile just like he would have been before this terrible illness.”

So Anna and her partner Lee Grant applied to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has previously helped 371 families in Surrey.

Newlife initially came to the family’s aid in September, providing a specialist buggy so they could take Emerson on daily outings from St George’s Hospital in London where he was then an in-patient.

Anna-Marina said: “The pram we had been using for him was causing pressure sores and he was getting spasms in his legs, so Emerson was increasingly stuck in a hospital room, sad and frustrated. Newlife loaned us a specialist Stingray buggy, which has lots of additional padding to support his posture, so we could walk around the area near the hospital, looking at the buses and the ambulances. We saw his confidence level boosted and his attitude change and he just wanted to be out and about all the time.”

Anna-Marina and Lee continued to use the buggy while Emerson was a patient at The National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, so he could get out and about there too. Now he is home, they continue to rely on it in the absence of a wheelchair.

Anna-Marina added: “Our whole world has been turned upside down. Emerson is paralysed from the waist down and it is unknown if he will ever walk again. Through intense physiotherapy and hydrotherapy we are hopeful. We have seen how Emerson is able to self-propel a wheelchair – he demonstrated that whilst in hospital and we are now hoping to fund to get him his own wheelchair so his confidence and independence can grow. It also helps as part of his therapy; this equipment is really important to his development.”

Now Newlife is looking for ‘local heroes’ who can help make this happen. The wheelchair for Emerson will cost £2,400.

Newlife needs donors and fundraisers who want to really make a difference, helping to transform his everyday life. To find out how you can support Emerson go to and click on the Donate button next to his story. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Surrey will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county. Any money raised above what is needed for Emerson will be used to help other local children.

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, added: “I know this is a busy time for families as they are busy thinking about the festive season, but I am urging ‘local heroes’ to spare a minute to consider how they could help improve a disabled child’s life this Christmas.”

You can follow Emerson’s story and watch his progress on the road to recovery by going to:

Pictured: Emerson Grant