Kilkenny Life

Heidi's Happy Feet

- this little girl needs our help

Siobhàn Donohoe

Reporter:

Siobhàn Donohoe

Email:

siobhan.donohoe@iconicnews.ie


Pamela and Tom Griffin are appealing for help for their two year old daughter Heidi. Heidi has been diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia which affects her lower limbs and prevents her from walking with ease. The condition means the nerves are sending the wrong message to the muscles that cause the spasticity.

Normally we can tell our muscles that we want to tense or brace in order to do a certain activity. However in Heidi’s case that brace and tension is constant which causes her continuous pain.

It’s a form of Cerebral Palsy and if untreated Heidi will remain bent at her knees. This means she will not get the full stretch on her legs to allow her to stand upright and to walk with ease.

She needs daily physio and stretches, which her parents call her ‘exercises’. Heidi is in pain doing these exercises, with her cries breaking her parent’s hearts as she tries to straighten her knees.

Pamela noticed at the age of nine months that Heidi couldn’t sit correctly on her bum by herself and that her knees were always upright. Heidi’s parents took her to doctors, and at the age of twelve months she had a brain MRI. The MRI results showed that there was no cognitive issues, so they knew it was a physical issue and hopefully could be fixed. However as it turns out there is no such surgery in Ireland to correct Spastic Diplegia.

Even though Heidi has been attending the Bons Secours in Cork and has a wonderful paediatrician, her mother still had to take to the internet to see what Doctor Google was suggesting as a solution. Pamela, through her own research found a life changing selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in the America. This surgery involves cutting the damaged sensory nerve fibers to permanently eliminate my muscle spasticity. 

Without hesitation, Heidi’s parents applied to a world renowned neurosurgeon Dr T.S Park in St Louis Children’s Hospital Missouri, for SDR surgery. Dr Park has pioneered and carried out over 4,000 of these surgeries. He has agreed that with post-op therapy and hard work, Heidi will be able to walk unassisted and pain free.

Fortunately, due to a cancellation, Heidi has the opportunity to travel to America in April 2020 for this life changing surgery. If she does not take the offer, she will have to go on a two year waiting list. The only problem is that it’s costing €60,000 which needs to be paid 45 days upfront before the procedure is carried out.

The Griffins felt they had no choice and accepted the surgery date, even though they do not have the required funds. Hence they have decided to launch a Go Fund Me page to ask for our help. The family needs to raise €60,000 and that’s not even taking into consideration the constant physio that Heidi will require post-surgery. Pamela told us “physio will always be a daily activity for Heidi, as she will have to build and maintain her muscle tone continuously. Alongside the professional physiotherapy we want to make physio fun by playing and running around with her sisters and peers.” 

Pamela is a Kilkenny based business woman and found it very hard to share Heidi’s story and to ask for help. She told us that she cried her eyes out before pressing the link to activate the Go Fund Me page on Monday evening, on 20th January last. However within days the donations started coming in. She is truly overwhelmed with the support and says she had to dig deep to ask for help but it will be worth it to see her daughter walking into school on her first day. She says “Heidi is a typical 2 year toddler who loves to play with her sisters, and sing. All I want is a chance for her to live her life to its full potential and without pain.”

Any and all donations would mean the world to this family. If you can you help them raise the money to make this life changing surgery happen, please visit GoFundMe.com and look for Heidi’s Happy Feet.