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Friday 20 April 2018

Nisha, the little orphan who stole the heart of a rugby legend

HAPPY FAMILY: Eric Miller with his wife Jenny and daughters Hannah and Nisha, who was adopted in March 2016
HAPPY FAMILY: Eric Miller with his wife Jenny and daughters Hannah and Nisha, who was adopted in March 2016

Jason Kennedy and Kathy Armstrong

Rugby legend Eric Miller and his family have spoken about the joy they have experienced after their decision to adopt a young girl with cerebral palsy from an orphanage in Sri Lanka.

Rugby legend Eric Miller and his family have spoken about the joy they have experienced after their decision to adopt a young girl with cerebral palsy from an orphanage in Sri Lanka.

The former Ireland international, his wife Jenny and their daughter Hannah had moved to Sri Lanka in 2014 when he was offered a coaching job.

While there, Jenny was determined to take part in charity work and decided to visit a local orphanage, where she instantly fell in love with a little girl called Nisha, who she then decided to adopt.

"I just picked her out of the cot and held her for about an hour and I just cried and thought that I couldn't leave this child here," Jenny said.

It took them 14 months of working through red tape, but by March 2016, the family had officially adopted Nisha.

"Nisha did a year of creche and, now she is in junior infants, she's really embracing life and it's great to see her making progress," said proud father Eric.

"When you step back and see how far she has come from when she was in the orphanage it is unbelievable, it's just such a change."

Nisha, who suffers from a form of cerebral palsy that affects her ability to walk, has been accepted for pioneering surgery in the US, which Jenny and Eric hope will happen as early as next summer.

Eric said: "Nisha's condition affects her lower limbs, so the spasticity in her lower muscles causes her toes to curl in and she struggles to walk.

"This surgery would basically snip some of the muscles that are causing that spasm and she would have to learn to walk again, from square one and there would be very intense physio after the operation. We hope this would boost her chances of walking. It's a pioneering surgery that a few Irish families have gotten over the past five or six years."

The surgery and rehabilitation costs €70,773 and the family are overwhelmed that they have managed to raise almost €60,000 so far.

Eric said: "The reaction has been amazing. People have been incredibly generous.

''They have really risen to the challenge and dug deep to help us. They seem to have really identified with our story and have wanted to help and support us."

The donation page can be found on gofundme.com.

Sunday Independent

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