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Mum of toddler battling leukemia pleads with public to follow social distancing as she fears coronavirus 'would be a fight too much for him'


‘Rían The Warrior’ is undergoing chemotherapy

‘Rían The Warrior’ is undergoing chemotherapy

‘Rían The Warrior’ is undergoing chemotherapy

The distraught mother of a toddler who is battling leukemia is pleading with people to take social distancing seriously.

Jenny Heavey, from Duleek in Co Meath, says she is ‘petrified’ that her 20 month old son Rían Murray could pick up coronavirus unless guidelines are adhered to.

Rían, who has Down Syndrome, is currently receiving chemotherapy and his immune system is compromised.

‘Rían The Warrior’, as he has been affectionately dubbed due to his fighting spirit, was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) last month after spending much of his life in and out of hospital with chest-related problems.


Jenny Heavey with Rían and Cíelen

Jenny Heavey with Rían and Cíelen

Jenny Heavey with Rían and Cíelen

The mum-of-two is now pleading for people to think of those at high risk and to avoid going out unnecessarily.

"I’m a nervous wreck. The country has been on kind of a lockdown for the past couple of weeks but we have been on lockdown for the past couple of months.

"Rían is really vulnerable in between chemo sessions so we have been trying to keep him unexposed as possible.

"We will have to take him home after his next chemo where his immune system will be so low he will be susceptible to infection from anything, even bacteria and fungus that are non-harmful.

"It is imperative he doesn't come into contact with Covid-19 as it may be a fight too much for his little body.

"For me to catch the virus wouldn't be a massive deal, however for me to take the virus into my house could prove fatal so it's really important that everyone plays their part."


Rían has had to spend a lot of his young life in hospital

Rían has had to spend a lot of his young life in hospital

Rían has had to spend a lot of his young life in hospital

Little Rian’s diagnosis left the family ‘heartbroken’, according to Jenny, who works as a teacher in Duleek Girl's N.S.

"We were absolutely devastated when we got the news. He is so small and so vulnerable anyway that it was hard to swallow that he was going to have to have chemotherapy.

"Then you go up to St John's Ward in Crumlin Hospital and you begin to speak a new language because they are talking about the disease and the progression and you find yourself suddenly saying I can't wait for him to start chemotherapy and when would you ever imagine saying that, that's your baby.

"You quickly become accustomed to having your eyes on the prize and beating the disease and getting him well again.

"He was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) on the Monday and was in for chemo on the Tuesday. He had really bad chest infections all throughout his first 18 months.

"Doctors were saying it was common for Down Syndrome children to suffer from chest problems but he needed really prolonged spells in the hospital all of the time."

Jenny, who is also mum to Cíelen (4), describes the grueling treatment the brave toddler has had to endure.

"That Sunday morning he was diagnosed he was like a different baby, he just screamed in pain so we took him to Temple Street and that's where they saw those nasty cells on the blood test. They were confirmed by Crumlin on the Monday.

"They, unfortunately, found some of the Leukaemia in his spinal fluid so he had to have weekly lumbar punctures to have chemotherapy into the spine to combat it spreading to the brain. He's had a tough old road.

"For his first session of chemotherapy, he was hooked up for 48 hours solid. We had three attempts at trying to get him in for round two but unfortunately, his blood count hadn’t recovered as quickly as they had expected.

“Last Sunday he went for bloods in our local link hospital that he visits twice a week when he's home and we finally got the go ahead to start session two of chemo.

“He will go to theatre this week for more spinal chemo and a bone marrow aspirate which will give us an indication of how successful his first session has been.

The proud mum of two says her son 'teaches her family a thing or two about bravery every day.'

"He is just a pet, since the day he was born he has been a little blessing. He was born with hypotonia so he had very low muscle tone but he worked so hard and surpassed anybody's expectations of him. He is nearly walking now which they are shocked about.

"We had a postnatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome on Rían which was a bit of a shocker. I was just in for a routine check-up and there was no heartbeat and we were rushed to theatre and out he came and defied all odds. He has been a fighter since the day he was born.

"I haven't taken anything for granted since the day Rían was born because of the fight we had with his entry into the world so he has definitely taught us something new every day and has given us a few lessons about bravery."

Both and her husband Gerry have had to give up their jobs to take care of little Rían and GOFUNDME appeal has been set up to ease the financial worries for the family.

Online Editors