A Dream has come true for a brave Irish girl who has walked unaided for the first time in her life thanks to a pioneering US operation.
Katie Byrne's parents, Antoinette and Robert, wept tears of joy as their seven-year-old daughter took her tentative first steps following special surgery in Missouri.
Katie was able to undergo the operation after a flood of public donations following an article in the Irish Independent.
Robert and Antoinette admitted they were "absolutely overwhelmed" by the generosity of people which enabled Katie to reach her €60,000 target a month ahead of a US deadline.
The couple, from Coolock and Stepaside in Dublin but who live in Cobh, Co Cork, were convinced Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) would transform their daughter's life.
Katie underwent the procedure on October 23 - and has been engaged in intensive therapy at a St Louis hospital.
Last week, Robert and Antoinette were moved to tears as Katie was able to walk unaided for the first time.
They are flying back to Ireland today.
"It is a dream come true not just for Katie for but our entire family," Antoinette said.
"She once asked me why she can't walk like the other children? When your child asks that, it is absolutely heartbreaking.
"I explained to her that a doctor in America is going to help her. Katie thinks it's brilliant. She has to be wheeled into school. She would love to be able to walk into school.
"It is the little things like that she misses."