Swords unites to help brave Abbey

Family campaign to fly sick girl to Canada underway

Robin KIELY

Published 13/10/2010 | 09:15

Little Abbey May from Swords, who was born with a rare heart condition, needs treatment in Canada.
Little Abbey May from Swords, who was born with a rare heart condition, needs treatment in Canada.

A MAJOR campaign to raise money to help fly a two-year-old Swords girl, born with an extremely rare heart condition, to Canada for treatment, is under way. Little Abbey May was born with heterotaxy, a complex condition where her internal organs are reversed, which affects just four in every one million babies. There is only one other other known case of the condition in Ireland.

Abbey is also missing a spleen – a cardiac condition called asplenia syndrome – and suffers from a septal defect (very large hole) in the middle of her heart, which cannot be repaired.

Having undergone various procedures in Ireland, doctors told her parents, Jacqui Gray and Tony May, there was nothing more they could do and gave her a life expectancy of late-teens. NOW Abbey's family are determined to bring her overseas in an effort to get her ground-breaking treatment not available here.

'Before Abbey was born, we were told by the doctors she may not live,' Jacqui explained. 'So far Abbey has proved them all wrong, words her own cardiologist used.

'Abbey is on antibiotics and aspirin daily to prevent infection and keep her blood thin. There is no cure for Abbey's condition, but a three-stage palliative treatment is commonly performed.'

Abbey had the first of these surgeries three days after her birth and had her second open heart procedure at 10 months. She was due to have a third, a Fontan, in 2011, but that has been put on hold.

'There are no known cases of people living with Abbey's condition above the age of 30 to 40 years worldwide,' Jacqui continued. 'However, every heterotaxy patient is different, with different symptoms.

'Her life expectancy is her late teens. Abbey was due to have a Fontan after Christmas, but they've now changed it and said it might be two years.

' Then they dropped the bombshell and said she may not be suitable. It's all a bit up in the air at the moment, but she needs that Fontan to get to teenage years.'

Abbey's parents had nothing but praise for the team at Our Lady's Hospital For Sick Children in Crumlin, who they said saved her life and were understandably devastated by the prognosis, even more so when doctors revealed their daughter would not be able to have a heart transplant in the future because she does have a spleen to fight infections.

' There are further treatments in other parts of the world, where they can save our little girl's life and so we want to take Abbey to Toronto, Canada,' Jacqui added.

'There is also another such hospital in Texas and Philadelphia – there are more options for Abbey in these hospitals and we do know that she will need further surgeries.

'We have to take her to Canada to give her the best chance possible for a long and happy life. Being told there's nothing more they can do for her here isn't something we, as parents, are willing to accept.

'A long, healthy and happy life for Abbey is the only option we are looking for.'

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