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Family s plea to help Ashley walk again
Ann Betts and daughter Ashley. Picture Lee Griffith/The West Australian

Growing up hasn't been easy for nine-year-old Ashley Betts.

Born 15 weeks premature alongside her twin sister Carys, Ashley was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Now losing the use of her legs, she needs corrective surgery to help her walk again.

But adding to her problems, doctors believe Ashley could also develop dystonia, a disorder where the limbs move involuntarily, and the seven-hour surgery could trigger the condition.

Parents Ann and Steve Betts only learnt of the surgery in June and have discovered the operation to restore the use of her legs would be irreversible.

"The problem is that they've got to release enough of the muscle tightness to give back the function to the hips, knee and ankle," Mrs Betts said. "But if they release too much they could unleash the dystonia which would mean she wouldn't be able to walk."

Mrs Betts said the leading surgeon in the field was in Melbourne, but as WA residents the cost of the operation could not be billed to Victoria's public health system.

The family, from Wembley, have also been told they will not get funding help from the WA health system.

The news has left the Betts family desperate to raise $50,000 in two months to pay for the surgery.

Mrs Betts, a mother of six, said finding such a big sum on short notice was not possible without help from others.

A Bankwest trust account has been set up by the family in Ashley's name. Donations can be sent to: BSB 306050, account number 0644388.