Dreams come true for brave Matthew
A brave little boy will finally be able to play with his two brothers again at Christmas after undergoing pioneering brain surgery for an extremely rare condition.
Matthew Flynn (7), from Headford, Co Galway, suffers from Rasmussen's Encephalitis, a progressive neurological disorder that affects as few as one in 10 million children worldwide.
In most cases the inflammatory disease attacks the right half of the brain, leading to frequent seizures, as well as loss of motor skills and speech, paralysis on the left side of the body, inflammation of the brain and mental deterioration.
But for Matthew, whose left half of his brain had to be removed, the condition was so rare that it was the first time neurosurgeons in Ireland had performed the operation.
The fun-loving boy, the middle of Terri and Michael Flynn's three sons, was suffering up to 20 violent two-minute seizures a day and his rapidly diminishing quality of life meant that a never-before-performed surgery offered his only hope of a long-term quality of life.
"When Matthew was five, he started getting seizures in the middle of the night. He would lose all balance and shiver and shake. . . It was awful," said Terri. "We knew surgery was the only option."
Happily, Matthew's 11-hour surgical operation at Dublin's Temple Street Children's Hospital last July was successful.
His long-term prognosis looks very promising and he has not suffered seizures since.
Two weeks ago he returned home from the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
Matthew will be among those honoured on Saturday night at Share A Dream's National Children of Courage Awards at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Limerick.