An Irish family received their Christmas wish when their four-year-old son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was accepted for a specialist operation in a US hospital.

Jack Holmes, from Crossmolina, Co Mayo, cannot walk without the help of a walker or splints, and his parents were told that he would be confined to a wheelchair as he got older.

According to the Irish Independent, Jack has now been accepted for surgery at St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri this February.

"This will change his life. Jack realizes that he can't do things even his two-year-old cousin can. When they play she gets down on the ground with him because she thinks it's a game," said Jack's mother Karen.

"It affects him in a hundred different ways, this will allow him to become more independent and that's all we want."

During the operation, called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, doctors will cut the nerves at the base of Jack's spine that cause the abnormal tone in his legs, reducing the spasticity in his lower limbs and improving his sitting and standing postures.

He will have to undergo a second orthopaedic operation two weeks later to help him control his muscles.

The family will have to spend five weeks in the U.S., one week before the surgery and four weeks for Jack to recover.

Jack will then have to participate in a two-year rehabilitation program at home in Ireland.

The family is  now trying to raise the €50,000 needed for the operation.

"If he is confined to a wheelchair, it will determine what he can do for the rest of his life. This operation can change all that," said Karen.

A special bank account, Jack's Wish to Walk, has been established at Bank Of Ireland. The account number is: 97415228, sort code 90-52-72.

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