A FIVE year old boy from Killygordon is getting ready to undergo a pioneering operation in America tomorrow which could help him to walk for the first time.
Paul Doherty was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy which left him unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair.
Since last year his mother Ann Marie along with family and friends have undertaken a massive campaign to raise the €60,000 for the ground-breaking Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.
Paul and his family arrived in St Louis, Missouri at the weekend in a snowstorm but were undeterred and attended the pre-operation appointment to carry out all the necessary checks for the surgery which could give Paul the chance to walk.
Ann Marie has been keeping supporters of the ‘Mammy I want to Walk Fund’ updated through their facebook page and said that despite undergoing the “biggest flight of his life”, Paul is in good spirits.
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“Paul is excited about being in America asking me why everyone is talking funny,” she said.
Speaking previously, Ms Doherty explained: “Since Paul could talk he always told me “Mammy, I want to walk”. It broke my heart to see him stuck in a wheelchair not been able to run about with his brother and sister or even to be able to pick up a toy from the floor that he wanted to play with.
“Paul is a happy boy, playful and full of devilment! As his mother, I always fought to get him the services and therapies he needed. While the HSE gave Paul what they could they could never offer him the opportunity to be able to walk.
“Then I came across an operation in America called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). The operation involves cutting some of the nerves in Paul’s spinal cord that are misfiring the muscles in his leg.”
She thanked the many people who have thrown their weight behind the fund and said the campaign will be ongoing as more funds will be needed for an intensive two year post-operative physiotherapy program.
Among the key supporters of the fund have been singer Daniel O’Donnell who interrupted his Christmas holidays to put on a special fund-raising concert after hearing of Paul’s plight.
Ms Doherty said that while she is nervous for her son, she knows that “he’s a battler”.
“He has been through a lot in his young life but he always has a smile on his face. We are due a pre-appointment with the hospital and we are just praying the everything goes okay.
“We’ve come a long way and we couldn’t have got here without the help and support of the people of Donegal and across Ireland,” said Anne Marie.