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Brave toddler Elie hasn't been able to eat since birth

A DUBLIN toddler is set to fly to America for vital, life-changing surgery.

Little Elie Madden spent the first nine months of her life in Crumlin Children's Hospital. Now her family are preparing to take Elie and her twin sister Emie to Boston where Elie will have pioneering surgery.

Elie, from Phibsborough, was born with a disorder in which the oesophagus does not connect to the stomach. It means she cannot eat, drink or swallow on her own.

"There's no connection to her tummy so basically she can't swallow, can't eat. She has to be fed through a peg in her tummy," said mum Esti.

Baby Elie underwent her first operation when she was just one day old. She spent the three months after her birth in Intensive Care in Crumlin.

"I was crying for the first few weeks whenever I saw her in ICU because she was so little and so fragile," said Esti.

"She's also had a couple of major heart surgeries but they're hopefully behind us now. And when she's stressed her trachea collapses and she can't breathe. So there's a lot going on with such a small baby," she added.

But despite the ongoing medical worries, Esti says Elie is a very happy baby.

"If you didn't see the tubes you would think she's a normal baby. She's a very happy baby."

Elie spent nine months in hospital before being allowed home. The twins celebrated their first birthday on October 6 with over 70 family and friends.

Elie was facing a lifetime on medication, until her parents discovered a groundbreaking treatment called the Foker Process -- available only in Boston -- which stimulates the growth of the esophagus.

Elie will have to be put into a comatose state for up to eight weeks in order for this to be performed.

Anyone who wishes to donate can visit www.eliemadden.com