Father of girl, 6, caught in crossfire of gangland shooting are eternally grateful to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

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THE parents of a six-year-old girl gunned down in a south London shop have praised Stoke Mandeville Hospital for the care she received.

Thusha Kamaleswaran became Britain’s youngest gangland victim last March when she was shot in the chest, caught in the crossfire between two groups of violent youths in Stockwell.

The youngster, who lives in Ilford, Essex, was officially discharged last Thursday after spending a year on the St Francis Ward at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, where she was treated by some 34 doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and health care associates. She will however remain an outpatient.

Thusha’s father Jeyakumar Ghanasekaram, 37, known as Sassi, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the kindness we have received and Thusha’s treatment at the hospital has been incredible.

“We are eternally grateful to all the staff for their efforts on behalf of our daughter. The public response has been amazing.”

Since the attack, Thusha has been left paralysed from the chest down. While she has some movement, the muscles and nerves in her legs and lower body are still there, but they are not controlled by the brain.

But staff and her family believe there is no reason why she won’t enjoy a full and rewarding life – she will however will need lifelong medication, monitoring and care and must take a daily cocktail of drugs.

At Stoke Mandeville the bubbly youngster was given daily exercises, physiotherapy and helped to come to terms with her injuries. She also enjoyed a range of activities, including baking muffins and shortbread, and schoolwork while an in-patient.

“When Thusha first arrived at Stoke Mandeville it did seem that she was completely paralysed from her wound down,” added Sassi.

“Since then there has been some return of feeling and there is some movement but how far that will continue to change the doctors simply don’t know. We understand she may get more movement, but she may not.

“We have to accept she may never walk again, even though everyone is working so hard to help her.

“We are praying day and night she will recover.”

Staff have been trying to get Thusha up on her feet with a combination of treatments and physiotherapy and have encouraged ‘stepping’ using her body weight to get her leg muscles back into a pattern of walking, rather than being controlled by the brain.

She has been using leg callipers and a back brace to support her body, and a treadmill, supported by a harness, to see if her spinal cord will make new connections.

Because she is young, her spinal cord is not fixed and still has some plasticity, which means it is possible there may be undamaged nerves that can be recruited to work in a different way to regain leg function.

To donate to Thusha’s care fund, the details are: Thusha Appeal Fund, HSBC Bank, 5 Wimbledon Hill Road, London, SW19 7NF. Sort code: 40-07-30, account number: 12239108.