A mum has spoken of her joy after her son returned to school following life-changing surgery.
The Kiraly family, from Portlethen, jetted off to America last month after fundraising for 11-year-old Luca – who has cerebral palsy – to have an operation.
Mum Elena, 40, dad Matthew and brother Matty, 16, travelled to St Louis where Luca underwent surgery on his spine.
The Portlethen Primary School pupil was born premature and diagnosed with the condition when he was just seven months old.
Luca currently needs a wheelchair when outdoors and can only walk a short distance with a walking frame.
The youngster underwent a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) on his spine at the end of August, which will relieve pain and help build his muscles.
The procedure took place at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, which is known as the most advanced facility for SDR.
Luca, who is a keen YouTuber, is steadily improving and Elena said the hard work would now begin with physiotherapy sessions at least five times a week.
While it is early days, Luca is getting better on his feet and she is hopeful one day he won’t need a wheelchair and instead will walk with crutches.
She added: “Luca is doing fine and he has made a lot of progress.
“We were worried when we arrived back because of the way his knees were bending but we’ve been told that is due to the weakness of the muscles.
“He’s now having to use muscles he has never used so we have to build the strength in them.
“He is sleeping with a knee brace on and leg splints so he looks a bit like Robocop.
“The surgery won’t be worth it if we don’t do the rehab afterwards.
“It is hard because he is a kid and he wants to play but he’s been really good with it all.
“We tell him he can play after he does his exercise.”
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Originally from Romania, Luca moved to the north-east with his parents in 2011.
Elena previously said she only became aware of the SDR surgery after reading about the procedure in an Evening Express article.
Luca is now looking forward to the future and has high hopes of attending a YouTube convention next year.
Elena said: “We’ve said he can go to the YouTube convention if he works hard.
“Luca is more motivated and working hard on his rehabilitation.
“The doctors said he was okay to go back to school three or four weeks after surgery.
“Everyone was happy to see him and there were some tears.
“It was such a warm welcome back.”