Brave Sophie is ‘flying’ after trip to USA for life-saving treatment

By Maurice Garvey

FUNDRAISING for a sick child can be an exhausting experience for families – but a campaign to help one young girl has proved to be utterly rewarding.

This time last year Clondalkin native Cathriona Nolan was battling to raise €80,000 in order to send her daughter Sophie to the USA for life-saving treatment.

Sophie Nolan June 2016

Sophie (6) has cerebral palsy, and required treatment for Selective Dorsal Rizotomy, a surgery currently not available in Ireland.

The youngster was not able to walk without the aid of a walking frame or wheelchair, but thanks to the kindness of strangers, the Step up for Sophie campaign reached it’s target.

After a successful trip to St Louis Hospital, Missouri, Cathriona says Sophie is now a “completely different person.”

Cathriona said: “She’s absolutely flying. She hasn’t used the wheelchair since she got back from America, and hardly uses the walking frame anymore. Before, she couldn’t go outside without them or else she’d fall over. “

Cathriona moved to Balgriffin after marrying a man from Howth, but her family still live in Dunlawley Drive in Clondalkin.
“We did a fundraiser in the Red Cow, and bag packing in the Mill Shopping Centre and Tescos,” said Cathriona.

“It’s great when people donate, but it’s also nice to let them know how the treatment went. Following the story in The Echo last year, we received a good few donations, and now that it is coming up to her one year anniversary (June 30), I wanted to say thank you to the readers who helped us change her life.”

Sophie underwent two operations in the care of Dr Park, who specialise in pediatric neurosurgery and treating children with cerebral palsy.

Cathriona continued: “Dr Parke pioneered the surgery. It was hard work in after-care, but Sophie is now doing horse riding, gymnastics, and we are hopeful that she will do swimming and Irish dancing.

“She will always have cerebral palsy, but she continues to improve and will remain active. The energy she used to have to concentrate on walking, is now used for other areas like reading. She’s a different person now.”

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