A five-year-old girl doctors said would never walk again is defying the odds by doing just that.
Isabella Lombardo, from Sydney, was told she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.
But after controversial spinal cord surgery in the US, she’s taking giant strides in her recuperation.
When she was a baby, Isabella was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy called Spastic diplegia.
Too young for spinal surgery in Australia, her parents made the decision to head overseas in search of treatment.
“We didn’t tell anyone about this for two years,” her father Joseph Lombardo admitted.
“We hid it because we were in the dark, we didn’t know what was going on,” her mother said.
Defying medical advice, the family raised $100,000 for the procedure in the US.
And after a successful first trip, they’re heading back for further treatment.
“One of the special things about Isabella is just her natural determination and drive,” Isabella’s mother admitted.
“It’s absolutely transformed her life completely.”
In three weeks, Isabella will head back for stem cell surgery.
“We’re hoping she will be able to gain more functional use out of her arms and hands,” Mr Lombardo said.
Isabella’s parents accept stem cell treatment has its risks and may not work.
But the leaps of faith they’ve taken have already shown great results.
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“Every reason that the doctors told us not to go for the surgery in America, was every reason that we had to go for the surgery,” Ms Lombardo said.
“Not everything we do is going to be right for other people,” her father admitted.
Isabella’s story has been so inspiring that a documentary about her is being released in August.