Fundraising for Charlee

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A 4-year-old North Otago girl who requires life-changing surgery not available in New Zealand has plenty of support around her, which her family hopes will get her to the United States next year.
In November 2014, Charlee McLachlan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after she underwent an MRI scan for an issue related to her lungs.
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of disabling conditions which affect movement and posture.
It is caused by a defect or lesion to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during foetal development before, during (as in Charlee’s case) or shortly after birth, or during infancy.
“We were sitting there talking about a few things with the doctor,” Charlee’s mother, Anna McLachlan, said.
“He said the MRI was clear, but it wasn’t. He said it was caused by PVL (periventricular leukomalacia) – that’s related to the white cells in brain matter.”
The left side of Charlee’s brain is affected, which means it affects the right side of her body.
Charlee’s right leg is shorter than the other. She struggles to do everyday things such as climbing into bed, getting dressed, sitting on the floor, sitting on a seat, walking, running and riding her bike.
Mrs McLachlan said Charlee became frustrated when she could not physically keep up with her friends at Waitaki Valley Preschool, and twin sister Jorja.
“For her, I think it would be a bit different if she wasn’t a twin because she is constantly wanting to be the same as her sister.”
Charlee regularly goes to Dunedin for botox injections. They go directly into her calf muscle, which helps hold her heel down so she can walk more easily.
While the treatment has helped, Charlee has been accepted for major surgery in the United States.
She is scheduled to undergo selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri in April.
The procedure will involve opening the lumbar area of her back, the removal of the spinal cord and electrically testing the sensory nerve fibres.
The operation is a permanent cure for spasticity.
However, the operation is not cheap. Charlee’s father, Duncan McLachlan, said the family needed to raise about $120,000.
“We’ve aimed for $120,000 [to be raised] … it’s going to cost us $150,000 to $160,000 [overall].”
That includes the cost of another operation to lengthen Charlee’s calf muscle and tendons, and several months of “intensive physiotherapy”, flights and living expenses.
A Givealittle page (SDR for Charlee in St Louis USA) has been set up. It sat at $5280 earlier this week.
A Facebook page – Charlee’s journey to SDR – has also been established so supporters can follow Charlee’s progress.
Other fundraisers planned include a quiz night at the Duntroon Tavern on July 29, a barn dance on October 1, and an auction and calf growing competition to be held in December.
North Otago Hunting and Fishing has also come on board, by selling raffle tickets each week.
The family will sell stickers and labelled pens, while donation tins are being made specifically for the cause.
Mrs McLachlan’s brother, based in Rangiora, planned to auction off a pair of playhouses in Christchurch and Oamaru, while Mr McLachlan’s father, a Mosgiel-based real estate agent, will host the auction. A casino night to be held in Christchurch will also act as a fundraiser.
Mrs McLachlan’s mother is selling knitted rabbits, and Simpson’s Flooring Xtra, which has branches in Oamaru and Timaru, will contribute financially after picking Charlee’s cause to be its charitable focus for July.
Meanwhile, the couple’s other children, Lane (15) and Alex (12), have collected cones to sell and will sell tickets for firewood raffles, to raise money so they can travel to the United States with Charlee and their parents, while Alex planned to organise a mufti day at Duntroon School.
The McLachlans, who farm north of Duntroon, were “blown away” by the support they had received from family, friends and strangers.
“The generosity of people has been amazing; it’s been very humbling,” Mrs McLachlan said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Brave Charlee has a tough journey ahead of her, but with a loving family and compassionate community behind her, the chance of success is high.” – Melanie Tavendale