Wednesday 22 November 2017

Massive fundraiser set to give Ella Doyle (3) the chance to 'run and jump'

Ella Doyle (aged 3)
Ella Doyle (aged 3)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Ella Doyle from Rathfarnham is like any other three-year-old with her parents describing her as “inquisitive, fun and very caring.”

Ella (3) is suffering from cerebral palsy and her parents, Simon and Nicola are fundraising to bring Ella to the US for a life-changing surgery which would allow Ella to walk.

“We noticed something was wrong when Ella was six months old,” Nicola told

“We had friends who had babies the same age as Ella and she couldn’t hold her head up like they could.

Ella styling some cool sunglasses (aged 2)
Ella styling some cool sunglasses (aged 2)

“We knew so little about it at that stage. We thought it was something that could be resolved very quickly.”

Ella was taken to Coombe Hospital where she was born and she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Ella Doyle
Ella Doyle

“I remember leaving work and going to the appointment thinking we were going to be told that all she needed was a bit of physiotherapy,” said Simon.

“She was so bright and was reaching all her milestones that we thought it was something minor.”

Ella has spastic diplegia, which only affects her walking. She falls in the lower end of the palsy spectrum but will eventually require a wheelchair.

“At the moment Ella is suffering from tightness and spasticity in her legs. She can’t walk or stand independently.

“Ella and her sister Millie would be sitting at the kitchen table and if the doorbell rings Millie will jump out of her seat, but Ella can’t move,” said Simon.

Nicola said that the surgery known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is a complex spinal surgical procedure that involves cutting some of the damaged sensory nerve fibres that are causing the spasticity. It is the only procedure that will permanently reduce or eliminate spasticity in the legs but unfortunately it is not available in Ireland.

“We found the surgery by doing a lot of research mostly online. We’ve also talked to other families who went through the same thing. We didn’t jump into it, we researched a lot of neurosurgeons and families so we could make a well-educated and informed decision,” said Nicola.

Other families who have went through the surgery are now walking as well as “running and jumping”.

Simon and Nicola said they’re “overwhelmed” by the support of the public.

“People have gone out of their way to offer us their services and to plan fundraising events. The Irish people are so amazing and generous,” said Nicola.

The fundraiser for Ella is in its sixth week and the family have already raised €35,000 of the €150,000 needed for the operation.

“It was scary to open our personal lives to the public but I never would have thought that people would be so generous,” said Nicola.

Ella’s surgery is scheduled for September. The surgery will take place in St Louis, Missouri, under the reputable Dr TS Park. He has performed over 3,000 SDR surgeries with a high success rate.

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