THE parents of a three-year-old boy have launched an appeal to raise €75,000 to help him get pioneering US treatment to allow him to walk.
Kevin and Fidelma Dolan admitted they are desperate to raise the remaining €75,000 to allow three-year-old Mark to undergo the revolutionary procedure, having mortgaged themselves to the hilt to raise €60,000 of the total €135,000 cost.
But they vowed they will not rest until Mark has every chance of walking and living a normal life.
Mark has been assessed as an ideal candidate for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) at a clinic in St Louis, Missouri, under pioneering surgeon Dr TS Park.
The clinic has already helped several Irish children suffering from conditions such as cerebral palsy and motor delay syndrome (MDS), which Mark suffers from.
However, the procedure is not HSE-funded.
"We owe it to Mark to give him every chance of walking like any other child," said Kevin.
Mark and his twin sister, Maeve, were born five weeks premature on August 9, 2012.
While Maeve suffered no ill-effects, Mark was diagnosed with MDS, which affects his legs.
Fidelma, who works with an early intervention team, has devoted the past three years to researching ways that might allow Mark walk.
"We just weren't going to accept that Mark would spend his life in a wheelchair. What parent would?" she said.
Kevin and Fidelma have juggled working and travelling from their home in Ahascragh, Co Galway, to Limerick three times a week for Mark's therapy sessions and caring for Maeve and Anna-Mai (8).
The family's savings have been wiped out and they have only been able to raise €60,000 through loans and borrowings.
They have launched the Mark's Wish To Walk campaign which has a Facebook page and a donations account (AIB Athlone A/C No 48349059 Sort Code 93-22-64).