THREE brothers have all been diagnosed with the same terminal illness – on the same day.
Padraic and Paula Naughton have spoken at their devastation after all their sons – Archie (8) and three-year-old twins George and Isaac – were diagnosed with Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
There is currently no cure or treatment for the fatal neuromuscular disease.
"It starts with the ability to walk and then it will affect the muscles in their arms leaving them unable to move. They won't be able to hug us anymore," mum Paula explained.
"It also causes curvature of the spine and the boys will need operations to fix this to help them breathe.
"But even with that their muscles will weaken and most with this condition die of respiratory and cardiac failure."
Paula, from Roscommon town, said that they first noticed something was amiss when Isaac had difficulty getting up from the floor as a toddler.
Eldest boy Archie also had an issue dragging his leg, but medics put this down as a knock-on effect of meningitis he had when he was just two.
In September 2012, a paediatrician carried out tests on all three brothers – the next day they had the heartbreaking diagnosis of Duchenne's.
"To be honest there aren't any words to describe how we felt. Sixteen months on we're still unable to find the words," Paula added.
"We were in complete shock when we were given the diagnosis and we're still trying to deal with it.
"Why us, why this terrible news?" added Padraic.
The couple remain determined to continue fighting for their sons and have set up a trust called 'Join Our Boys' , which aims to ensure their sons have all the resources they need as well as to fund research into the condition.
But they still have to find a way to explain the condition to their sons.
"We told Archie about 'Join Our Boys' and he knows his muscles don't work properly and that there are doctors around the world trying to help him. But how could you tell a child what will happen?" Paula said.
"The hope is to try and keep as mobile as possible for as long as possible."
Each year around 20,000 children worldwide are born with DMD, 99pc of which are boys. It is typically diagnosed in children aged between three and seven, causing them to be wheelchair bound from the age of eight to 12.
The illness destroys muscle tissue and leaves those with the condition fighting for their lives by their late teens to early 20s.
Paula and Padraic paid tribute to their neighbours and friends in Roscommon who have rallied around the family.
"The local community have been amazing and a huge support to us. It gives us the strength to keep going," said Padraic.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO HELP THE TRUST GO TO WWW.JOINOURBOYS.ORG