Tuesday 14 August 2018

'It's a race against time' - inspirational young woman's fight to keep her ability to walk

Kate with her parents Ann and Jerry on her graduation day
Kate with her parents Ann and Jerry on her graduation day
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

An inspirational young woman has said that she is in a "race against time" to raise money for life-changing surgery that will prevent her from losing the ability to walk.

Kate O'Sullivan (23) has Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, which is causing her limbs to tighten and she is losing the ability to walk.

She told Independent.ie: "Cerebral Palsy is basically the stiffening of the muscles in my legs, as a result they can't function because they are so stiff and tight, I have very little range of motion in my ankles due to the stiffening in my muscles.

"It has been getting worse since I was in my late teens, it is getting harder to walk, I'm experiencing a lot more falls and needing more help with simple things. like carrying bags or using the stairs is hard."

Kate, who is from Castletroy in Co Limerick, is eligible for a pioneering surgery in the US that would cut off the sensory nerves that are sending the wrong messages from her brain through her spine and into her legs and eliminate that signal.

She has been scheduled to have the operation at St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri next August and is fundraising for the €100,000 costs.

Kate O'Sullivan is due to have a pioneering operation in the US in August
Kate O'Sullivan is due to have a pioneering operation in the US in August

The hospital requires that the fee is paid 45 days ahead of the operation and only people who can still walk are eligible to get the procedure, so Kate knows that time is against her.

"We are in a race against time," she said.

Kate earned a degree in chemistry with forensic science at University College Cork but hasn't been able to pursue her dream career as a forensic scientist yet as she is no longer able to stand for more than a few minutes at a time.

"Right now, cerebral palsy is really holding me back in all aspects of my life.

"The  most important thing to me is to keep my independent walking so I will be able to achieve my dreams of working in forensics because I know without this surgery I'm facing my future in a wheelchair.

"I can't work right now  because I can't even stand for long periods of time, walking is getting so difficult and I'm also experiencing more falls as my balance is also affected.

"I need this surgery to eliminate the pain, improve my walking pattern, and balance and to ultimately be able to fufill my dreams of working in forensics and most importantly keep my independent walking.

"The thought of using a wheelchair is terrifying to me it's really hard to put into words, it's one thing to never have experienced independence but to know I have and to know I'm losing it is absolutely terrifying.

"I do not want to let my degree that I studied so hard for go to waste. I love being in labs doing research and I hope to return to it after the surgery," she explained

  • For more information or to donate towards Kate's operation please visit here

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