A little girl left paralysed after being caught in the cross-fire of a gang shooting has defied doctors who said she would never walk again and taken her first steps.
Thusha Kamaleswaran was just five when she was shot in the chest as she played in her uncle’s shop in Stockwell, south London, in March 2011.
Chilling CCTV footage showed Thusha innocently skipping and dancing in the aisles before she was hit.
After a year in a spinal unit, Thusha could just about wiggle her toes and it looked certain the aspiring dancer would never walk again.
But thanks to her boundless determination, the seven-year-old can once again stand on her own two feet.
She said: “I can’t wait until I can walk properly on my own again.
“I want to dance around and play basketball with my friends. I want to travel around the world too.”
The astonishing turnaround in Thusha’s condition comes after a regime of intense physiotherapy, the use of a standing frame and a harness and extensive stretching exercises.
Her father Sasi said: “Thusha never gave up hope of walking again, even when she was in hospital and had to take a year off school. She’s so hard-working and never stops smiling.”
As the family tried to help Thusha reconcile herself to a life in a wheelchair, Sasi told how a letter from the hospital last month announced the prognosis had dramatically changed.
He said: “It came as total shock, but it said that because of her amazing progress they’d changed their minds and she would definitely walk again.”
Of seeing his daughter take her first steps, he recalled: “They lifted her into a harness to support her weight while she put one foot in front of another on a specially designed treadmill.
“Seeing her walking again, even with that support, was like a miracle.”
Three men were jailed for life in April 2012 for the shooting that left Thusha paralysed.
Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole were hunting down a rival gang member when they shot her.
They were found guilty in March of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and shopper Roshan Selvakumar, who was shot in the face, as well as attempted murder of their intended victim Roshaun Bryan.
Grant will serve a minimum of 17 years, and Kolawole and McCalla at least 14 years.