Irish girl with cerebral palsy needs to travel abroad for life-changing surgery
A four-year-old girl from Drogheda needs to travel abroad for life-changing surgery to help her walk.
Odette ‘Odie’ O’Brien is a bright and cheeky four-year-old girl from Drogheda, County Louth.
Odie is a fighter. After overcoming an undiagnosed heart condition at birth, she continues to battle daily with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflexes, posture, and balance.
At home, Odie crawls on the floor or is carried by her parents; David and Joan.
Her balance is poor, and she requires both a walker and assistance with normal daily activities such as dressing herself, getting to the toilet, and playing.
She also needs to wear leg splints to try and keep her muscles stretched into normal positions during the day.
Writing on Odie's GoFundMe page, David and Joan detailed the need for their daughter's surgery and the incredible difference it will make to her life.
They said: "Odie is unable to walk without the assistance of her walker and cannot stand unsupported. At home she crawls on the floor or is carried.
"The spasticity, or tightness, in her legs can be very painful, and we do daily physiotherapy and stretching to try and reduce this."
In time, the tightness in her legs will increase, which means that her pain may also increase. There is also the possibility that she may lose the ability to use her walker and will thus require a wheelchair.
As you can imagine, this will only become more difficult as she grows up. Like any parents, David and Joan want their child to be able to live as independently as possible.
And they have been given hope that she can.
World-renowned neurosurgeon Dr T.S. Park of St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA, has evaluated Odie and considers her to be a candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.
The couple are hoping to raise €100,000 to cover the costs of the operation, therapy requirements, follow up treatments and travel to and from the US.
"We feel that SDR will give Odie the best chance to walk, run, dance and play," they said, "and give her the independence she would love to have."
This surgery is not funded by the HSE in Ireland, so David and Joan are looking for supporters to help their child to have the best possible chance at living an independent life.