‘It makes you appreciate how helpful people are in tough times’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

OVER €19,000 has been raised for the family of Dylan O’Neill, who died last month aged 21 following pioneering treatment to help slow the progression of a rare genetic disorder. His sister Serena is currently undergoing treatment for the same condition, ahead of a fundraising event.

Dylan, a past pupil of Coláiste de hÍde from Ellensborough in Tallaght, was diagnosed with adult metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) in December 2018, just five months after his older sister Serena (25) had been diagnosed with the condition.

Serena and Dylan 06 compressor

Dylan with his sister Serena earlier this year

The siblings’ parents, Noel and Sandra, realised something was wrong when Serena started showing symptoms of forgetfulness, including forgetting to put on her shoes or make-up, which led to her diagnosis, and after Dylan started displaying similar symptoms, he was also diagnosed.

While there is no known cure for MLD, undergoing a bone marrow transplant can slow the progression of the disease.

 

Dylan travelled to a hospital in Manchester in June to prepare to undergo the transplant, and Serena followed shortly afterwards.

Dylan sadly died last month, with his father Noel telling The Echo that his son’s death “will not be in vain” and that “countless lives will be saved” as a result of him undergoing the treatment.

The community got behind the O’Neills and fundraised in advance of Dylan and Serena going to Manchester for treatment. Following Dylan’s untimely death, the community is once again showing its support for the O’Neill family, by holding a Head Shave and Hair Dye Night in Aherne’s pub on Friday, November 22.

In advance of the event, Ciara McGuigan (24), who has known the O’Neill family since childhood and played alongside Dylan and Serena in Thomas Davis GAA Club, set up a GoFundMe account for the family, which at the time of going to print had exceeded €19,000 in donations.

Ciara told The Echo: “The whole event has been organised by Mary Hoey from Thomas Davis GAA Club, and she asked me to pass around the message about it.

“My brother will be shaving his head and I’ll be dying my hair pink. We’d do anything to help Serena and her family, especially at a time when we feel so helpless.”

Commenting on the large number of donations the GoFundMe account has received, Ciara said: “It’s amazing, everybody’s been so good.

“Some local fashion bloggers shared the GoFundMe page too, and a lot of people that we don’t even know have donated.

“It makes you really appreciate how helpful people are during tough times.”

The Head Shave and Hair Dye Night will be held in Aherne’s pub in Old Bawn on Friday, November 22, while donations to the GoFundMe page can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/ f/head-shave-amp-hair-dye-night-for-serena-amp-dylan

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