Katie (7) and her brother Jamie (5)
A brave little Kilkenny girl continues to defy the medical odds and is currently undergoing an assessment in Dallas in the United States in the hope that she will one day be able to realise her dream to walk indepedently.
Katie Lonergan (7) is in first class in the local national school in Owning and is thriving. The bubbly youngster was diagnosed as having celebral palsy when she was 18 months old. She was born in 2009 15 weeks early in 2009 and is a surviving twin. Her twin Conor passed away and Katie spent the first 19 weeks of her life in hospital. During this time she underwent heart surgery and was ventilated for seven weeks. She was diagnosed as profoundly deaf on discharge and was also subseqently diagnosed with dystonia.
Her parents Aisling and John have been resolute to obtain the best medical treatment and intervention for their young daughter and their labour of love has paid off.
A fund, Katie's Wish to Walk was set up (it has recently closed) and €120,000 was raised. These monies enabled the family to travel to America in 2013 and Katie under SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) treatment. Katie responded extremely well to the treatment and undergoes physio on a regular basis. She is able to walk using a frame but she is determined to walk unaided.
On St Stephen's Day Katie, her parents and her five-year-old brother Jamie travelled to Dallas to meet with Dr Jan Brunstrom. Their hope is that Dr Jan may be the link that will enable Katie to walk. The neurologist herself has dystonia and celebral palsy and is leading the way when it comes to treating such conditions.
"Over the past three and a half years we have realised that dystonia is definitely present in Katie. Her balance is poor and this is down to the involuntary movements due to the dystonia," her Mum said.
"She has never met a neurologist before so we are hoping that Dr Jan will be able to help us. As parents, we want to make sure that we have not left any stone unturned. She has such strength and determination but her legs won't work properly for her.
"She is flying it in school and she is academically brilliant. Katie was told that she would never walk or talk and now she talks for Ireland. Four years ago we set up Katie's Wish to Walk and now the fund is finished and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts. Without their fundraising none of this would have been possible. It is unbelievable to think what her prognosis was and all the progress she has made," she added.