A CORK couple who are fundraising for their young son who has been diagnosed with a form of Cerebral Palsy, are hoping the donations raised can pay for a life-changing operation in the United States.
Jerry O’Shea from Vicarstown, west of Blarney. was born at 29 weeks, weighing a tiny 1.6kg and spent the first six weeks of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Jerry was diagnosed with a brain injury at just four weeks old, which led to a diagnosis of right hemiplegic spastic cerebral palsy, said his mother, Emma.
“It is difficult for Jerry to use the muscles on the right side of his body, making many daily tasks much harder.
“He wears a brace on his right leg by day and a cast on it by night. He also wears a splint on his right hand by night.”
Jerry has been accepted to St Louis Children’s Hospital in the US for surgery. Emma said it would mean the world to them to have Jerry undergo the operation so he can enjoy a fuller life. “He’s a typical three-year-old. He loves playing and exploring. But he finds everything more difficult to do.
“Surgery for us, would give him that bit of a better chance of doing everything he wants to do. He loves his sisters.
“We’re looking down the road as well, to prevent future deterioration. It would really give him a better quality of life.”
Premature aging is also common for people with Jerry’s brain injury, called periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL. Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is an operation used to reduce spasticity, or muscle stiffness, in some children with Cerebral Palsy.
Emma said Jerry has increased his movement.
“He wears a splint on his leg by day, and a cast on his leg by night.”
He works with his physio through play, making it as fun as possible for him.
Emma and Oliver O’Shea applied to the Doctor in America online, supplying them with medical records and videos of Jerry’s activities.
“We sent off those videos. They reviewed those and said he was a good candidate,” said Emma.
SDR is a surgical procedure performed on certain spinal nerve fibres to reduce levels of spasticity in the legs. SDR is not available in Ireland.
Hopefully, the surgery will start in July, and then the O’Sheas will spend a month in the US, helping Jerry to recover.
“When we come home, we’ll continue the physio here ourselves then,” said Emma.
“We will need to stay in St Louis for four weeks. To get the most benefit from SDR, Jerry will need intensive physio for two years post-surgery.
“We would be very grateful for any donations towards this surgery and follow-up care for Jerry,”
The US Doctor is “the best at it,” having performed this type of surgery on over 5,000 patients. “He’s had mainly very good outcomes with them, so we would be very hopeful. Obviously, there is always the risk, but that’s why we have picked this particular surgeon because we think he is the best out there. So, we would be very hopeful that there will be very good outcomes afterwards,” added Emma.
So far, €32,788 has been raised out of a target of €85,000. Donations can be made online at gofundme.com