Anonymous donor gives family $60K for Ottawa girl's U.S. surgery

A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave the family $60,000 to pay for the $140,000 surgery that could help their daughter take her first steps.

Girl, 6, with spastic cerebral palsy needs $140K to pay for procedure in Missouri

Lamitta El-Roz has been doing exercises to help her prepare for the upcoming surgery. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

Lamitta El-Roz's parents went to sleep last Friday night with a huge worry — how to pay for the $140,000 surgery that could help their six-year-old daughter take her first steps.

When Canadian doctors didn't consider Lamitta a good candidate for surgery, the family turned to the United States.

The Stittsville girl was born with spastic cerebral palsy, a condition that prevents her from walking, crawling or rolling over on her own due to damaged nerves in her lower spine. She is travelling to the St. Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri at the end of this month for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery. 

Now, that worry that kept them up at night is gone. A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave the family $60,000 to help pay the bills.  

Lamitta's mother, Maya Taleb, won't reveal any details about the donor but said she's overwhelmed.  

"We went crazy and we said there are angels on earth and we are so grateful to them forever. It's amazing news," she said.

"The good news is now her surgery is covered and the five or six months of physiotherapy after the surgery." 

Surgery will decrease pain

The neurosurgeon performing the procedure to remove the damaged nerves said her posture will improve, the pain will decrease and she may, with the help of a walker, take her first steps.  

The Ontario Ministry of Health would not pay the cost of the surgery because a Hamilton neurosurgeon said she lacks any mobility, CBC News reported on Friday.

Finally, she will be released from all her pain.- Maya Taleb, Lamitta's mother 

Since January, the family has been fundraising with the help of generous supporters in their west Ottawa community. Up until Friday they'd raised approximately 60 per cent of the total $140,000 cost.  

The most recent donation puts them above their goal to pay for two surgeries, a month-long stay in St. Louis and intensive post-surgery rehabilitation. 

Lamitta beamed when asked about the donation. "Finally, she will be released from all her pain," her mother said.   

'She wants to walk, she wants to move'

To strengthen her back muscles before her surgery, Lamitta is undergoing two hours of therapy daily, with help from Victoria Kovacs, who runs Angel N Butterflies, a rehabilitation program specializing in children with motor disorders.

Kovacs takes Lamitta though numerous floor exercises using equipment to stretch out her constricted leg muscles. On her stomach with knees bent, Kovacs holds Lamitta's feet and gets her to perform a push up with her forearms bent.  

Victoria Kovacs works through floor exercises with Lamitta ahead of her surgery. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

After several weeks, Kovacs noticed a huge improvement.  

"Two weeks ago, Lamitta was not able to push herself up off the floor using her hands but now she is getting higher and higher," she said. "You can see lots of improvement. I believe in her and she's motivated — she wants to walk, she wants to move and be independent." 

I believe in her and she's motivated.- Victoria Kovacs

Taleb said her greatest hope is the surgery will stop her daughter from screaming out at night from the pain of her muscles tightening up.  

Lamitta's surgery is scheduled for September 7.