THE specialist who is to carry out a life-changing operation on a Selby boy says he hopes the procedure will become more freely available in the UK.

Six-year-old Noah Banks, of Eggborough, near Selby, was born eight weeks prematurely and was later diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. He is unable to walk without the use of a frame.

His parents, Chris and Julie, and their friends and family set up Noah’s Appeal in January, to raise £22,000 so Noah could undergo selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) – a procedure which could help him take his first unaided steps.

John Goodden, consultant paediatric neurosurgeon at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), who will carry out the procedure on Noah in November, has told The Press he hopes improved access to the operation will mean patients can undergo the procedure in the UK, rather than overseas, as in the case of Willow Emmison Neal, who had the procedure in the US earlier this year.

Mr Goodden said he had worked with management at LGI for two years to enable the hospital to offer the procedure in Yorkshire, and hoped other facilities would be created around the country.

He said: “I have also been working to try to make SDR more widely available, together with colleagues in other centres. In the future, my hope is clearly that access to SDR can be improved, but these things take time and it is up to the treating teams to collate the data and prove their case to the NHS Commissioners. This is something that all UK centres who perform SDR are working together to do.”

Noah’s mother, Julie, said: “We’re just hoping that further down the line, five years from now, it will be available to every child with a disability, and hopefully available on the NHS.”

Mr Goodden said that during his training as a neurosurgical registrar, he developed interests in paediatric neurosurgery and he recently contacted Dr TS Park (who also operated on Willow), to arrange to visit him to learn his techniques.

“I then spent two weeks with Dr Park in October 2010, meeting several British families and learning how he does SDR,” he said. “It became clear to me that SDR can offer a significant improvement for carefully selected patients with a specific type of cerebral palsy.”