'I just want to be a normal teen again, I'm missing out on my life' - Irish teenager raises funds for life-changing surgery to allow her to walk
An Irish teenager who lives in constant pain believes that surgery in the US will allow her to be a "normal teenager" for the first time and to walk without difficulty.
Courtney Manning (18) from Coolock in Dublin lives with cerebral palsy and has seen the mobility in her legs deteriorate throughout the past four years, forcing her to give up Gaelic football and dance.
The teenager experiences intense muscle cramps and tightness in her legs, which make it extremely difficult and painful to walk and her difficulties have worsened following an unsuccessful surgery on her Achilles Heel in March.
"I used to play Gaelic football for Parnells in Coolock but I was forced to give that up a year ago and dancing as well which I loved. I haven't danced properly for four years now because of this.
"My life has been put on hold and all I want to be is a normal teenager. I can't go out with my friends and I'm stuck inside a lot of the time. I've been suffering from depression because of this. It's really messing with my life.
"I had a surgery last year on my Achilles heel that didn't go at all to plan and I'm in pain contantly. I'm sitting the Leaving Certificate in June but I'm missing a lot of school because of the pain I'm in," she said.
Over the years, Courtney has tried many treatments to improve her condition, including botox, which proved unsuccessful.
Before Christmas, the teen was deemed a good candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in St Louis, a procedure where the nerves in the spinal cord are cut to ease spasticity and release tension in the nerves and body. The complex surgery is not yet available in Ireland.
Although the procedure has a high success rate, Courtney and her family are now fundraising in order to be able to afford her medical costs.
"The surgery in St Louis isn't available in Ireland but I found out before Christmas that I am a good candidate. At the moment we're trying to raise €100k, which would fund two procedures to help return the spasticity to my legs and allow me to walk with my feet flat. There is also huge costs involved in the braces and equipment, and physiotherapy. I would be over there for about five or six weeks," said Courtney.
The surgery is available in the UK but covered under the treatment abroad scheme and there is a tight criteria to be selected.
The SDR surgery was pioneered by Dr Park in St Louis and he has performed the surgery almost 4,000 times since the 1980s.
Courtney said she dreams of being able to live a normal life and study physiotherapy in university in the future, and feels that surgery is her only option.
"Next year I hoped to do physiotherapy in college because it's something I'd love to do after all this, but I don't see how I'd be able for that without this surgery.
"I'm not really myself lately. I'm so down. I just want to return to my normal, happy self and be able to do the things I love again," she said.
For more information and to donate to Courtney's cause visit: www.gofundme.com