'Excited, but also very nervous': Surgery for three-year-old Ellie after fund raises €100k

'Excited, but also very nervous': Surgery for three-year-old Ellie after fund raises €100k
Picture: Jim Coughlan.

FROM lemonade stands to raffles, local businesses to friends and family, the seemingly impossible has been achieved for little Ellie Boyhan.

Almost €100,000 has been raised in 15 days in the Ellie’s Dream to Dance campaign to pay for surgery to help the three-year-old stand and walk independently.

Ellie, who has cerebral palsy, is in constant discomfort and pain.

The fundraiser, set up by Ellie’s parents Amy Glennon and John Boyhan on July 4, was to gather the money needed to send Ellie for SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) surgery with world-renowned surgeon Dr TS Park at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri in the US. 

Speaking to The Echo, Ellie’s mom Amy said the family are in total shock at the generosity and kindness shown by complete strangers to Ellie and her campaign to walk.

Sophie McCarthy, Ben McCarthy, Kyla Healy and Kallum Healy who raised €135 for Ellie over the weekend with their Lemonade stand
Sophie McCarthy, Ben McCarthy, Kyla Healy and Kallum Healy who raised €135 for Ellie over the weekend with their Lemonade stand

“We are blown away by the support,” she said. “It was a pipe dream, we knew we had to try, but we thought we would be fighting for every euro right up until the surgery in September.”

The surgery, along with three years of post-operative therapy, could help Ellie to walk unassisted and live life pain-free.

Amy said Ellie, who is supposed to start pre-school in September, is a fun-loving, gregarious character who loves dancing and has a vast selection of tutus that she chooses from.

“She is a real girly girl,” Amy said, “She is so funny and she remembers everything.”

However, lately, the little girl has started to realise she is different from her peers.

“The other day, Ellie said to one of us, ‘Do you know my legs don’t work?’,” Amy said.

Ellie at home in Carrigaline, Co. Cork.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Ellie at home in Carrigaline, Co. Cork.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Amy said now that the funds have been found, the real journey begins.

“The next hurdle is to get our visas to travel to the states,” she said. “We know this will be a battle.” Ellie’s mom said they had been contacted by another family who were allowed to travel to America for a similar surgery and this gave them hope of a visa.

“We will be contacting politicians and doing everything we can to get our visas and with Simon Coveney and Micheal McGrath in our constituency, no better men for the job.”

The mother of two said she thought putting Ellie’s story out there would be hard, but now realises the tough stuff is only beginning: “Now it is time to be brave. We have to bring Ellie over and get her ready for the surgery. 

Eve Boyhan with her big sister Ellie. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Eve Boyhan with her big sister Ellie. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

"She has never been on a plane, so her first time will likely be heading to America for her operation. I always thought her first flight would have been to Disneyland.”

Amy said she has already started a countdown on her calendar for the operation which is eight weeks away. They have provisionally booked accommodation in America.

“I’m excited, but also very nervous,” Amy said, “It was a big decision to go for the surgery, but it is the best thing for Ellie.”

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