Monday 17 June 2019

Locals rally to help Juniper's family

Fundraising bid to allow family stay with tot for UK treatment

Baby Juniper’s family is fundraising to get her treatment that is not available in Ireland
Baby Juniper’s family is fundraising to get her treatment that is not available in Ireland

Mary Fogarty

It was a difficult Christmas for one north Wicklow couple, who spent those days by their baby daughter's hospital bed.

Six-month old baby Juniper, whose parents have asked that we use just her first name, has no immune system and therefore the inability to fight off infection. The family must travel overseas for effective treatment, unavailable in this country.

She is in isolation in hospital having been diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening genetic condition known as SCID, or Severe Combined Immunodeficiency.

Her grandfather said that one of the family's main aims now, as Juniper makes progress, is to raise awareness of the condition to help other families avoid the ordeal which they have faced. He said that elsewhere, the condition is diagnosed at birth after a heel-prick test.

Another relative said that the parents have been in the hospital constantly with their little daughter. She is making good progress ahead of further treatment in the UK and, as well as an outpouring of funds, there have been prayers and positive energy. We are also assured that Santa found his way to hospital and was given special permission by doctors to deliver to Juniper's isolation room.

The relative said that the family and their own friends and relatives will be setting up a petition for SCID to be tested for in the heel prick.

'There is a much better chance for children diagnosed before three and a half months,' she said. 'It is already tested for in over 30 states in the US; New Zealand introduced it this year; and it is tested for in Canada, and Taiwan, with pilot studies in the UK, the Netherlands and Australia.'

She said that the family has been overwhelmed by the huge level of support from their community and beyond.

Juniper's parents received the diagnosis just before Christmas, after months of illnesses and uncertainty about what could be wrong with the little girl, with pneumonia among the conditions she has been fighting as a result of SCID.

The family needs to travel to the UK for a bone marrow transplant. The treatment to save Juniper's life will require the family to stay in the UK for up to six months. 'They have a great support system here, which they will not have access to in the UK,' said a relative.

Family members and friends want to alleviate any financial pressure for Juniper's parents while they embark on this difficult journey.

The baby's grandfather said that everyone in the community is rallying around to help, and a gofundme page called 'Lifeline for Juniper' has already raised more than €35,000.

Any funds raised will go towards accommodation, flights and living costs. Any funds raised beyond those needs will be donated to support other families affected by SCID.

As well as the online fundraising, there will be local events arranged in the coming weeks to support the campaign.

Bray People