Family fundraise for Jenson to have life-changing surgery

Jenson Tucker with parents Joel and Carly Tucker and grandparents Anna and Buster Jones.

Jenson Tucker with parents Joel and Carly Tucker and grandparents Anna and Buster Jones. - Credit: Archant

The operation in American could enable to two-year-old to walk for the first time - but first the family must raise £65,000.

Thousands of people have signed this car in return for a donation to Jenson's fundraising appeal.

Thousands of people have signed this car in return for a donation to Jenson's fundraising appeal. - Credit: Archant

A YOUNG couple are hoping a life-changing operation in America could be ‘the key to unlocking their son’ – if they can raise £65,000 by next year.

Joel and Carly Tucker with two-year-old Jenson.

Joel and Carly Tucker with two-year-old Jenson. - Credit: Archant

Two-year-old Jenson Tucker cannot sit, stand or walk after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and infantile spasms when he was six months old.

He developed the conditions after suffering a lack of oxygen at birth, causing him to spend his first two weeks of life in intensive care at Derriford Hospital.

His parents Carly, 27, and Joel, 29, of Yelland, are now fundraising for him to undergo selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.

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The procedure at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, which would involve cutting away the ‘dead’ nerve endings to reduce the spasticity in Jenson’s legs, could enable the youngster to sit and stand on his own for the first time.

Jenson was refused the surgery on the NHS because he did not meet the strict criteria set in place, where children must be able to stand using a walker.

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Now the family must raise enough money to cover the £45,000 operation in America as well as the costs of the trip and years of intense physiotherapy post-op.

“We have raised £23,000 since mid-January and we hope Jenson can have the operation just before he turns four next year,” explained Joel.

“We’ve sent videos to the surgeon, Dr Park, and he said Jenson would be an ideal candidate but he has to build up his core strength first.

“He also needs to be mentally ready and needs to understand he is going under the knife for what will be a major operation.”

The couple, who have been married for eight years and are expecting their second child in September, said they hope to hear later in the year whether Jenson has been accepted.

His cause is being supported by the family of five-year-old George Palmer from Braunton, who underwent the same surgery 10 months ago after raising more than £80,000.

Carly said she was ‘dead against’ the idea of surgery at first but after speaking to George’s mum Nicki, she changed her mind.

She said: “I realised most of the negative things had rarely happened to anyone – and the potential positives outweighed the risk.”

Carly and Joel said seeing George’s progress has made them realise what life could be like for Jenson after his operation.

They said they will ensure they have the money for when he is ready to go under the knife and family and friends have dug in deep to help.

So far their fundraising has included gruelling treks, half marathons, auctioning off a holiday, giant clothes swaps and a fishing rod raffle.

Joel has also managed to get thousands of people to sign a rare Mark 1 Golf in return for a donation.

He said: “We’re hoping to keep it for Jenson when he is older so he can see how many people supported him.”

In October, the family will be hosting an auction of promises at the Pier House and are looking for donations from local businesses to go under the hammer.

Anyone who wishes to donate towards Jenson’s operation can do so by visiting or text JENS61 plus either £1, £5 or £10 to 70070.

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