When Harlie's mother discovered the SDR surgery it seemed as if she had found a way to help relieve her daughter of years of pain and loss of independence. However, after further investigation she came to realise the costs of travelling half way around the world, the surgery itself and the months of daily therapy post surgery were simply out of reach.
With the help of Harlie's family, friends and community, The Harlie Russell Foundation was established with the goal of raising enough funds to allow Harlie and her mother to travel to the USA to change Harlie's life.
The foundation raised over $100,000 and in August 2017, Harlie and her mother traveled to St Louis, Missouri to change her life.
On August 15 2017, Harlie underwent SDR surgery. She spent 3 days in a hospital bed not quite understanding the changes she was experiencing in her body. By day 4, Harlie was out of bed and attending physiotherapy in the St Louis Children's Hospital. Harlie's body was weak as she no longer had spasicity in her arms and legs which her body had become accustomed to relying on.
August 24 was the day of Harlie's second surgery in St Louis. She underwent calf and hamstring lengthening to allow her legs to straighten to their full extent.
Her recovery was fast but progress was slow. Upon returning to Australia, Harlie joined PropelFit gym to commence strength and conditioning training. As each week passed, Harlie grew stronger. Not just in her legs but her upper body too. Soon, Harlie was able to lift her own body weight, stand with minimal support and start taking independent steps in her walker for the first time in her life.
Harlie has a long way to go, but her future is brighter everyday.
You can follow our updates on Facebook by clicking on the link provided, purchase Tin Shed Records song, "Steps With Me" of which the proceeds go directly to The Harlie Russell Foundation or click on the donate now link below.
Since before surgery, Harlie was setting personal goals.
There are many on her list but here are her most memorable.
Harlie's first goal after surgery was to walk down the aisle as a flower girl. In December 2017, she achieved this.
Six months before Harlie underwent SDR surgery, she received an award at school. That day she decided that the next time she was on that stage, she would walk. She did.
"Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world"