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Saturday 22 July 2017

Noirin's family push for cash in hope of spinal cord cure

Brave schoolgirl was paralysed in car crash

Anita Guidera

THE family of a little girl with spinal injury have begun fundraising for clinical trials which they hope could eventually offer her a cure.

Brave Noirin Nic Garbhaith (7) sustained a severe spinal cord injury in a horrific collision three years ago.

Her mother Sonia and brother Aodan (2) were injured in the crash and an elderly woman in the other car lost her life.

The inspirational little schoolgirl, who is paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, has confounded her family with her zest for life.

She attends school in her native Derrybeg, Co Donegal and counts horse-riding, swimming, playing music and even ballet among her favourite activities.

"She just inspires me how she manages to do daily tasks and adapts to everything. Every single challenge she was given, she has risen to it," her mother Sonia told the Irish Independent.

But anxiety about other painful and debilitating conditions that could impact on her young body has prompted Sonia and her husband Ronan to look into the latest research into Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) in the US and Hong Kong where clinical trials are ongoing.

"Our family has spent the last three years trying to adapt to our new way of life while encouraging Noirin to be as independent and happy as possible," Sonia, an occupational therapist, explained.

Complications

"We have been trying our best to keep the complications of SCI to a minimum, but sadly this is easier said than done," she said.

Problems such as scoliosis, hip deformity, osteoporosis and chest and bladder infections, are facing her as she grows.

The Chinese trials have entered phase two, where patients are being injected with umbilical cord blood monocular cell transplants; while the first trials in the US, 'SCINetUSA', are scheduled to take place later this year.

"Realistically we know it's not going to be today or tomorrow. But we were given a little bit of hope by one specialist who said that it may be in the next 10 years and as long as it is in the pipeline we are happy with that," Sonia said.

They have joined an international fundraising campaign, JustADollarPlease.org, to support the trials, with a number of pharmacies in Co Donegal selling wristbands for the charity.

Noirin's accident turned the lives of the Donegal family upside down but it is their daughter who gives them hope for the future.

"She is so happy, so spirited. I don't worry about her future because she has every skill to survive," said Sonia.

Irish Independent

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