Parents say thanks after baby Eryn’s trip to China for pioneering treatment
THE family of a baby born blind have thanked those who contributed to the £60,000 fund raised for the nine-month-old to allow her to travel to China earlier this summer for treatment it is hoped will give her the gift of sight.
Eryn Kirkpatrick was born with Septo-optic dysplasia, meaning she cannot see, and was diagnosed at just a few days old. Her mum Evanna Shiels, originally from the White City area of Dungannon, and dad Maurice were told their baby daughter may never be able to see but were determined to do everything in their power to give her any chance there is of a cure.
In May this year Eryn travelled to China for stem cell treatment and, after three weeks of twice daily treatment the little girl is now home and recovering well.
Described as a “congenital malformation syndrome” which results from underdevelopment of the optic nerve and absence of
the septum pellucidum (a midline part of the brain), the condition can produce varying degrees of problems with a sufferer’s sight, including partial loss or a complete absence of vision.
While her mum and dad are hopeful the treatment will work, they said they may have to wait a year to gauge if it has been successful.
“Treatment went very well, but whether or not it was successful we honestly don’t know,” said Evanna and Maurice.
“We received the best treatment and care possible and thought it went well but we will not know for a couple of months.
“It can take up to a year for the stem cells to go to where they are needed and it can take them quite a while to grow.
“It would be different if she was two or three and could tell us if it was working but she is only nine months and we will just have to wait and see.”
The family, who live in Brookeborough in County Fermanagh, said they wish to extend their thanks to anyone who contributed to Eryn’s fund over the past few months.
“The support really has been superb,” they said. “And if all goes well and there is improvement we will go back a second time in 18 months or two years.
“At present we have raised enough to go back a second time. We have currently raised around £60,000 and the trip cost £30,000. If the treatment is not a success and we do not make a return trip we will ensure the money will go to other needy children less fortunate than Eryn.”
Funds were donated from people across Northern Ireland, including people in Dungannon, Coalisland, Brookeborough, and Fivemiletown - and even as far afield as Australia.
Locally a very generous donation of £1,000 was made by St Patrick’s Primary School.
“Regardless of the outcome we are very grateful for the support we have received, through donations and different fundraising events,” added Evanna and Maurice.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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