'Our only wish is to bring sick Elie home'
FOR Eddie Madden and his Polish-born partner Esti, there's only one thing topping their seasonal wish list -- to leave hospital in America with their seriously ill baby and spend the rest of Christmas at home.
But for the moment that particular miracle remains only a pipe dream.
Their daughter Elie -- who suffers from a rare condition meaning her oesophagus does not join up with her stomach -- is still undergoing pioneering surgery at Boston Children's Hospital.
Speaking last night from her bedside, Elie's mother said she remains hopeful that one day they will be able to bring their daughter home to Dublin.
"That hope is all we have. We believe at the end of the road that we will have a healthier baby. She's not going to be fully healthy but fingers crossed she'll be much healthier than since we arrived here," she says.
"It's hard to see your baby not well at Christmas time. I don't celebrate the season that's in it very much because I don't feel I have anything to celebrate.
"But because we have another child and she's in the Christmas spirit we try to be as happy as possible for her.
"I try to do normal stuff in order to stay sane. My mother is here with me so she is helping me to have that little bit of a normal life.
"Obviously Eddie has to work and he's back in Dublin from the beginning of January so it is very hard."
Since the birth of their daughter in October last year the couple have faced a series of setbacks as their child struggles for survival. Elie, who is a twin, weighed just 1.74kg when she was born.
She spent nine months at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
Unable to swallow any food or drink, matters were complicated further when doctors discovered problems with Elie's heart.
Since arriving in Boston, Elie has been placed in an induced coma for the past 28 days as she receives treatment on her oesophagus.
"She's still in a coma. She's had three operations so far. But now she has other complications; her voice box being one of them," explained Eddie.
Meanwhile, a young boy was airlifted to a London hospital yesterday where he was due to undergo a crucial operation.
Irish Air Corps crew, who are working round the clock providing emergency cover for the Christmas period, transported the child.