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Thursday 22 August 2019

Ireland's Carer Crisis: 'The fight for funds for special alterations to our home'

All smiles: Declan and Marie Ronan with their six-year-old daughter Tina. Photo: Ray Ryan
All smiles: Declan and Marie Ronan with their six-year-old daughter Tina. Photo: Ray Ryan
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

The family of a six-year-old girl unable to walk, talk or eat unaided are fundraising to adapt their home.

Tina Ronan, from Milltown, Tuam, Co Galway, has a severe developmental delay, chorea disease and epilepsy.

But her father Declan Ronan (45) said the schoolgirl "has a perfect mind" and "her smile lights up my day".

Mr Ronan and wife Marie are receiving a portion of the funding to adapt the house from Galway County Council, but are asking the public to assist.

"Tina was born in a natural birth and everything from that day until she was around 10 months old seemed perfect," Mr Ronan said.

"There were no complications for Tina in any way.

"She was passing all of the early baby tests, but by the time she was 10 months old, alarm bells started slowly going off.

"People would say, 'it's a wonder Tina isn't sitting up or walking yet'.

"They'd ask how long had she been crawling for," he added.

"And I'd say she isn't. Then others would ask how old were our other two older children when they'd crawled and walked.

"But it had been years earlier when our other daughters had been that age, so really we didn't remember."

Read more here: Young carer Shauna (14): 'It's tiring but I am happy to help my brother Daniel'

Tina was admitted to University Hospital Galway when she was a year old after suffering multiple seizures.

She was later diagnosed with epilepsy, but within six months the child was having more seizures.

"They upped the dose of drugs for the epilepsy and thank God they brought the seizures down," Mr Ronan said.

"After six to eight months, they diagnosed my daughter with chorea [a neurological disorder], and they gave her a total of 14 different medicines in two years.

"If Tina starts firing her hands round, doctors thought it might be her brain telling her hands to reach for something.

"But the signal isn't going all the way. "But they did a scan and said her brain is perfect.

"So the only conclusion is that this burst of energy is a movement disorder."

Tina's older sisters Helena (23) and Rebecca (21) came up with the plan to raise funds in order to help adapt the family home.

The changes will include a disability-friendly bedroom with a hoist, a wetroom and making the entire home wheelchair accessible. They have already received a €30,000 grant from Galway County Council.

But the family say that they need to raise around €20,000 more to help to complete the project.

Tina attends St Oliver's special school in Tuam, and both her parents devote their lives to caring for her.

For more information, visit support-for-tina

Read more here: 'Postcode lottery' for grants to adapt housing for the disabled


Family Carers Ireland are available on Freephone Careline number for family carers 1800 240724.

Carers can call any time for information, advice or just a listening ear.  Also carers can access the website for information.

Irish Independent

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