Three year old Katie Lonergan from Co Kilkenny suffers from cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia - a condition that prevents her from being able to walk - but is determined to make her way to the US to acquire medical treatment.
TheJournal.ie reports on young Lonergan’s inspiring story. Katie, a surviving twin, was born 15 weeks early. She spent the first 19 weeks of her life in the neonatal unit and endured several blood transfusions and heart surgery.
Due to the intense medical treatment in her first few weeks of life, Katie now endures lasting side effects, including being profoundly deaf, and cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia.
Katie’s parents Aisling and John heard of Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, a surgery that eases muscle spasticity and improves mobility for children with spastic cerebral palsy. The surgery, however, is not available in Ireland, but is offered in Bristol, UK and Missouri, USA.
Determined to see their daughter more mobile, the Lonergans have begun saving up the monumental fees that will help bring Katie to the US for treatment. Although the HSE had begun offering treatment abroad for Irish children at the Bristol facility, it was decided that Katie’s case was too severe and she would have to go to the US for treatment.
Katie’s mother Aisling told The Journal that, “I would love if the HSE could eventually provide for this because there are so many Irish children who are looking for SDR. Even raising awareness through Katie is all worthwhile.”
“We felt, and we still feel, our best option is to go to America with Katie,” Aisling said. “We gathered all of the relevant information needed for America and within two weeks we had a reply. It’s the sooner the better we get treatment for Katie because her hips are developing abnormally.”
Aisling went on to explain that the SDR surgery works in every case, but the extent to which it helps depends on the amount of work and physio that is put in afterwards.
The family is hoping to travel to the US in April for little Katie’s surgery. The trip and surgery, however, are costly - so far the family has raised €13,000 of the €60,000 needed. Aisling insists, however, that the chance for Katie to walk is priceless.
“To give her independence and a better quality of life is priceless. It will open so many doors for her,” said Aisling.
“We live in a small rural community and they have promised us they will leave no stone unturned to make sure we have the money to go to America when we need to go.”
“People are rallying around to offer their help and support,” said Aisling. “It is so inspiring to see the generosity of people.”
To find out how you can help fund Katie Lonergan’s trip to the US for life changing surgery, visit her webpage Katie’s Wish to Walk.