Comedy show to raise funds for Nina’s operation

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Comedy comes to town tomorrow in a fundraising effort for Timaru toddler Nina Kerr.
Kiwi comedian Urzila Carlson is set to take the stage at Sopheze on the Bay in a show that will assist in getting 3-yearold Nina to the United States for an operation to improve her quality of life.
Nina has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, causing her arms and legs to be rigid and making it hard for her to move.
The condition also causes constant pain.
Her mother, Judith Mewhinney, said $180,000 was needed to get her daughter to the United States for surgery and four rounds of therapy.
About $14,000 had been raised to date.
The procedure is called selective dorsal rhizotomy and the operation cannot be done in New Zealand as it is a highly specialised procedure.
With the help of family and friends, Mrs Mewhinney found a specialist in the United States who was known as a pioneer of the operation.
Louise Haley, of the Plunket Family Centre in Timaru, is playing a key role in drumming up support for Nina.
Mrs Haley said the surgery was ‘‘a very major procedure that requires cutting nerve rootlets in Nina’s spinal cord’’.
‘‘The spasticity of Nina’s body is caused from abnormal messages being sent from her brain through her nerves and to her muscles. Each nerve will be separated into about 30 nerve rootlets and each rootlet will be tested.’’
The operation would be followed up with 12 months of intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
‘‘Nina will have to learn how to use her body again when the spasticity is gone. She will have to learn to roll, crawl and walk again,’’ she said.
If left untreated, spasticity would create deformities in Nina’s joints, muscles and bones, which would have longterm effects on her health, Mrs Haley said.
‘‘Preventing those contractures, and giving her a body that is far easier to control and move, will give Nina a far more ordinary and pain-free life.
‘‘Unfortunately, all of this comes with a price tag. We need to raise at least $180,000 for Nina to be able to have the surgery and four rounds of therapy. She is such a bright, happy and smart wee girl, and we know that if she could have a body that works she will go far in life.’’
Doors to the comedy show open at 7pm and tickets cost $30.