independent

Thursday 20 September 2018

St. Angela's student to undergo life-saving surgery in a race against time

A St. Angela's student is desperately trying to raise money for a life-changing seventh operation that could help her to walk again.

Elizabeth McNicholas (28) from Lucan, Co Dublin began suffering from a complex spinal condition in 2008, just before she sat her Leaving Cert exams.

This week she travelled to Turkey to receive the surgery that will save her life - but the fundraising must continue.

She underwent four spinal fusions in Ireland, all of which have been unsuccessful.

Elizabeth's mum, Brenda, told Independent.ie that she had been deteriorating rapidly around Christmas time.

"Due to the unsuccessful spinal surgeries, Elizabeth developed a brain injury. Elizabeth's spine is crushing her internal organs and she needs a machine to breathe.

"Elizabeth spends her life in pain and is confined to her bed.

"She was forced through ill health to put her final year of college on hold and she has had to watch all her friends move on in life. Before Elizabeth's health deteriorated she was a great camogie player and musician. Now, she has no quality of life."

On Christmas Eve, the family were offered a lifeline.

"We were informed that her life-saving treatment - consisting of multiple surgeries involving her spine, hips and pelvis - must take place on January 3, 2018 at the Comprehensive Spine Centre at the Acibadem Maslak Hospital, Istanbul. We are now in a race against time to raise €150,000."

The life-saving treatment that Elizabeth needs is not available in Ireland. The family say that despite being referred by her consultant for treatment abroad, Elizabeth was refused funding under the Treatment Abroad Scheme.

"This surgery would save Elizabeth's life. It guarantees that Elizabeth will be able to sit up independently and to be able to get around independently in her wheelchair.

"It is heartbreaking for us looking at her deteriorating so fastly. Elizabeth fights through everyday with courage and bravery despite being in horrendous pain and unable to get out of bed.

"All Elizabeth wants is a chance at life but without this surgery she'll have no chance."

Elizabeth's situation became even more challenging when she developed narcolepsy, which means she could fall asleep at any time, and adrenal insufficiency two years ago.

The Dublin woman sat through her Leaving Cert despite the pain, and earned enough points to study her chosen course, despite everything.

As her condition worsened, she had to defer her studies at St Angela's College, where she was studying Home Economics and Irish.

Elizabeth's friend has set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising €150,000.

Her friend, Ciara Ní Chorragáin told the GoFundMe page: "All treatment that Elizabeth got here in Ireland has failed. Her internal organs are being crushed by her spine and she now requires a breathing machine while sleeping.

"The surgery in Istanbul is Elizabeth's only hope of surviving. The surgeons in Istanbul are optimistic that surgery will be a success and save her life.

"Elizabeth is one of the nicest, kindest, caring people you would ever meet who's life has been robbed from her for the last 10 years.

"These are years she will never get back. Elizabeth used to be an amazing Camogie player who had a dream to play for Dublin and was also a great musician. All these talents have been taken from her.

"Despite this Elizabeth has a positive attitude and a great sense of humour."

The money would help her to get the surgery and would also enable her to spend time in a specialist rehabilitation centre in the US.

At the time of going to print, over €65,000 of the €150,000 fundraising goal has been raised.

To support Elizabeth, you can donate at www.gofundme.com

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