Thursday 19 September 2019

'Best present I could dream of' - 'King of Temple Street' Billy (6) allowed to go home for Christmas

Victor and Eileen Goulding with their three children - Rachel, Odhran and Billy
Victor and Eileen Goulding with their three children - Rachel, Odhran and Billy
Billy Goulding, six, who's back at the family home for Christmas

Nick Bramhill

ONE of Ireland’s bravest children has proved that dreams can come true – after hospital doctors gave him the green light to spend Christmas at home.

Billy Goulding (6) has spent more time in hospital than any child his age should.

Four years ago, the Co Offaly youngster was left paralysed from the chin down after picking up a virus.

The fun-loving toddler had been playing outside the family home in Birr with his sister and cousin when he collapsed.

After being rushed to hospital, his parents – Eileen (38) and Victor (42) – were given the devastating news that Billy had transverse myelitis, an extremely rare neurological condition in which the spinal chord is inflamed.

Since then, Billy has required round-the-clock care and assistance for tasks most children take for granted, such as feeding himself.

Billy Goulding, six, who's back at the family home for Christmas
Billy Goulding, six, who's back at the family home for Christmas

Until August, Billy – who attends the world-renowned Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK – needed a tracheostomy tube to breathe.

At one point, he spent a whole year in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, where his infectious personality earned him the nickname ‘King of Temple Street’.

VIRUS

Last month, further health complications meant he had to miss the annual Share A Dream ball in Limerick, where his fighting spirit was to be honoured.

Billy was rushed to hospital with pneumonia, a collapsed lung and another chest-related virus.

However, last week his family’s prayers were answered when he made a strong enough recovery to be allowed to return to the family farm for Christmas.

Eileen – who has two older children, Rachel (15) and Odhran (8) – said: “Christmas will be extra special this year now that we have Billy back.

He was even able to go back to school earlier this week and take part in the school’s Christmas play.”

Despite the huge challenges Billy faces, proud Eileen remains hopeful that one day he will walk independently.

“There is hope for him because he’s starting to get some feeling back in his body,” she said.

“I’d give anything for him to be able to scribble on my walls or even break a window.

“That would be a nightmare for some families, but it would be a dream for me. I just want him to get better. That would be the best Christmas present I could dream of.”

See Billy’s Recovery Story on Facebook.

Herald

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