Saturday 19 October 2019

Hope for Cian campaign raises staggering €102k in a week... but €880k is needed for little Irish boy's life-saving operation

The money was raised in just six days thanks to the power of social media

Little Cian needs $1million in order to have the life-saving transplant
Little Cian needs $1million in order to have the life-saving transplant
Cian's family and friends are thrilled with the generous response from all over the world
Cian is currently undergoing assessment in the Children's Hospital in Boston

Sarah Jane Murphy

An online page set up to fund a double-lung transplant for a four-year-old boy from Co. Meath has raised in excess of €100,000 in just six days.

Little Cian McDonnell, from Carlanstown, near Kells, Co Meath is currently undergoing assessment at Boston Children's Hospital to ascertain if he is suitable for the life-saving operation.

If doctors at the US hospital give their approval, $1million (€881,000) needs to be raised, as Cian just has months to live and must undergo the transplant as soon as possible.

His dad Donal and big sister Chloe (14) are hopeful that doctors will perform the transplant on him.

Cian's family and friends are thrilled with the generous response from all over the world
Cian's family and friends are thrilled with the generous response from all over the world

The brave little boy has recently been diagnosed as blind.

Meanwhile the Hope for Cian fundraising committee have said that they are astounded at the staggering amount raised to date.

Donations have poured in from all corners of the globe - Australia, Canada, Austria and even the remote Cook Islands.

A total of €102,000 has now been pledged, meaning the campaign still has a long way to go until it reaches its target of $1 million.

The McDonnell family are very grateful to Irish celebrities such as Keith Duffy, Marty Morrissey and Amy Huberman who have given their backing to the campaign.

Shortly after his birth, Cian was diagnosed with a rare condition called Dyskeratosis Congenita and went blind before his first birthday.

Doctors treating Cian then noticed that his blood marrow was failing.

The little boy underwent a bone marrow transplant in January 2013.

"Basically after that, he was thriving. He was doing really well," family friend and fundraiser Mandy Shipp told

"But then in January of this year, he was becoming very short of breath and was in hospital for five weeks.

"It took the doctors a while to diagnose the problem and they had to do loads of tests.

"He was eventually diagnosed with microscopic pulmonary avms, which is basically tiny pinholes in his lungs," Mandy explained.

"When he takes a breath in, the oxygen is going out through these tiny little pinholes, and he's not getting the proper level of oxygen."

An average person with fully operational lungs will get 95 to 100 percent of the oxygen they breathe in. Cian gets just 52pc - and this number is falling.

Doctors are not sure if this condition is linked to his previous condition.

When Cian was diagnosed in February, doctors at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin immediately referred him to Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK which specialises in lung transplants.

Unfortunately they deemed him unsuitable for their donor lists.

"Boston Children's Hospital is his last hope," Mandy explained.

Brave Cian has been at the children's hospital in Boston before.

Doctors conducted a series of tests on him due to Dyskeratosis Congenita as they had never seen a child 'thrive' with the condition as Cian had been doing.

They are the world experts in Dyskeratosis Congenita and they are now going to assess him for a lung transplant.

The family are very hopeful that surgeons in Boston will accept Cian on to their waiting list, and feel he has a strong chance given their knowledge of his existing condition.

However, the funding for the operation is vital.

"We're desperate at this stage - if he doesn't get the lung transplant he won't live to see Christmas. That's a very real possibility and not an exaggeration," Mandy said.

"In May, he was given months to live and he has deteriorated.

"He's a lovely little fella - it's hard to believe that internally he's so ill. He's funny, wants to play, and he hates having his oxygen mask on. He loves Peppa Pig, and he was able to go to pre-school - he was able to do things that kids can do.

"But you can see that he is sick. He has bad days, and those bad days are getting more frequent," she added.

The community of Carlanstown and surrounding areas have hosted an array of fundraising activities for Cian in the last few months and the support has been huge - however, supporters they need every bit of help they can get to save the little boy's life.

Cian's supporters have set up a gofundme page at and their Facebook page can be accessed at

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