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Brave girl Ellie May has a spring in her step
5:00pm Wednesday 15th April 2009 in News
A BRAVE girl who tragically lost all her limbs to meninigitis is learning to walk again.
Five-year-old Ellie May Challis has become the youngest person in the world to be fitted with special carbon framed limbs.
The youngster touched the hearts of people across the county as she defied the odds to survive the killer bug which she contracted in 2005.
Sadly Ellie May had to have all her limbs amputated eight weeks later.
People from across Essex rallied to support her parents Lisa and Paul Challis by holding fundraisers to pay for prosthetic limbs, but those have left her struggling to keep up with her classmates at Engaines Primary School in Little Clacton and her twin sister Sophie.
So her parents, who moved to Little Clacton from Rainham at Christmas, contacted world renowned prosthetic limb centre Dorset Orthopaedic to see if they could help and the firm made the specially designed new legs.
She was fitted with them three weeks ago – making her the youngest person in the world to have the £10,000 a pair special limbs.
Paul Challis, 45, said: “Ellie can walk twice as fast on these new legs. She is so full of determination.”
The company’s managing director Bob Watts said: “We had to make them especially for Ellie as they had never been made this small before. We were worried that she wouldn’t be able to balance properly on them, but she has made amazing progress.
“Within seconds of having them on, she was off. It will change her life.”
Ellie was originally fitted with NHS prosthetic limbs a few weeks after the operation, but she couldn’t wear them as they were too painful.
Her new limbs will need to be replaced every two years.
Readers have helped support Ellie May by running various fundraisers for the family. In south Essex more than £50,000 was raised.
Fundraisers have included Benfleet Rotary Club, who raised more than £1,500 by holding a race night and auctioning a Real Madrid shirt signed by David Beckham.
Lewis Joiner from the Rotary Club said: “Her story has touched all of our hearts.”
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