Parents make plea as Katie (8) walks after US surgery
THE parents of an eight-year-old girl now able to walk after pioneering surgery in the US have called for every Irish child with cerebral palsy to have the option of such treatment.
Antoinette and Robert Byrne had to raise €60,000 so daughter Katie could undergo the revolutionary Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) procedure at a Missouri Hospital.
Katie from Cobh, Co Cork underwent the surgery on October 23 and took her tentative first steps in late November.
"The truth is that SDR not only works, but it absolutely transforms the lives of children with cerebral palsy," Antoinette said.
The couple warned that parents should not face the pressure of having to fund-raise for such treatment and should be given State help.
They also argued that children like Katie should be given better support.
"Katie gets one hour of physiotherapy per week from the Health Service Executive. We don't believe it is enough. I try to do work with her at home. But our fear is that all the progress she achieved in the US could be lost if the physiotherapy momentum is not maintained here in Ireland," she added.
Katie underwent the operation after a flood of donations followed an article in the Irish Independent about her plight.
The couple, from Coolock and Stepaside in Dublin but who live in Cobh, Co Cork, were convinced SDR would transform their daughter's life. Katie underwent the procedure in Missouri and engaged in intensive therapy at the St Louis hospital before her return to Ireland.