| 6.8°C Dublin

Little Sergio's family must raise €100k for vital US treatment

THE family of a Dublin tot who needs a life-changing operation in the US must raise €100,000 towards the cost of the treatment.

The HSE has agreed to fly one-year-old Sergio O'Connor to Boston in the Government jet and will cover some of the cost of the innovative treatment.

However, the family must also provide a portion of the overall cost.

Sergio's parents must now raise €100,000 as their contribution towards the operation as part of an agreement with the HSE, Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin and Boston Paediatric Hospital.

In addition to this contribution, the family must also fund all expenses for the duration of Sergio's treatment in Boston and aftercare, which could take months.

Michael O'Connor, Sergio's grandfather, said that despite the obstacle of the €100,000 the family were delighted with the news.

"It seems to be happening now and we're delighted. We're at the situation that it's all sanctioned and that was what was agreed. We just have to get on with the fundraising now," he said.

The operations will take place at the same hospital where Dublin girl Elie Madden is currently undergoing treatment for the same condition.

Sergio, who like Elie is a twin, suffers from a number of complications. Among the most severe is a rare condition, which prevents him from eating, drinking or swallowing.

The operation to treat this condition involves inducing Sergio into a coma for approximately three to six weeks, while surgeons use a procedure to stimulate the growth of his esophagus. The whole procedure and aftercare could take up to six months.

The family from Donnycarney are now hoping to get the green light to travel in the coming weeks and hope to be undergoing treatment by St Patrick's Day. Donal and Rosa will travel to Boston with baby Sergio and twin Tadhg may stay at home with his grandparents.

"It hasn't been decided yet. We may be minding Tadhg," said Michael.

Sergio has remained in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin since his birth last March. However, the family were delighted when he was allowed a short visit home to celebrate his first birthday last week.

"He's very happy and he is smiling most of the time but then it can change to him choking very quickly. But he is a smiley baby, that is what has kept us going as best we can," said Michael.

"We have to take on these challenges. When you see him smiling you have to do what you can. We weren't expecting it but it's there and we have to deal with it and do our best. It's another uphill battle to raise that amount but we just have to do it," he added.

Sergio's father, Donal O'Connor, and his wider family are well known Traditional Irish musicians. The Trad community across the country is now involved in producing a CD for Sergio which will include performances by Sean Keane of The Chieftains, The Dubliners, and Damien Dempsey.