By Lauren Fetherston
A Four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, has defied all odds in his fight to walk following life-changing surgery last year in the U.S.
Rory Gallagher, from Cliffoney, Co Sligo, was born eight weeks premature and had no signs of any health concerns. It wasn’t until he didn’t meet milestones such as smiling or rolling that he was brought in for an MRI scan revealing some brain damage.
When Rory was just eight-months-old his parents, Shauna and Gerard Gallagher, were told he would never walk or talk and be in a wheelchair by the age of three.
But they never gave up hope and soon found a neurosurgeon that could perform a pioneering surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, the only procedure that can provide permanent reduction of spasticity.
Shauna and Gerard received little to no support from Irish health services and found themselves fundraising for a chance of a lifetime, taking Rory to the U.S for this SDR surgery.
After raising €120,000 for the surgery, Rory received the first part of his operation in July last year at St Louis’ Children’s Hospital in Missouri, allowing him to take his first steps. He can now toddle along with the help of a frame but his parents hope one day Rory will walk unaided.
Rory was the youngest child in Ireland to have undergone this procedure and Shauna said: “It’s more than we could ever, ever have wished for.”
She told how three days after the surgery, Rory, “wiggled his toes for the first time. It was just so amazing to see. He wants to do everything himself, he’s so determined. Rory is the most fun-loving little boy and our pride and joy.”
“It’s been the most amazing journey and I’m so proud of Rory. At times it has been very difficult but Rory is worth every minute of stress”.
The family are now trying to raise €80,000 for the boy to undergo another procedure, orthopaedic surgery on his ankles, on December 8 to allow him to live a pain-free life. Rory also needs further operations to improve his vision.
The Gallaghers have put their home up for sale in order to cover the cost of the operation and neurological rehabilitation Rory requires.
They said “The aftercare and intensive physiotherapy costs are expensive but our wee man is worth it.”
Dublin celeb nightspot, Lillie’s Bordello are along with the Miss Ireland organisers and others, holding a fundraising event, Sing a Song for Rory or “The stars have come out for Rory,” as Sharon referred to it.
The fundraiser will take place in Lillies on Friday, October 14. Tickets are €20 and are available here.
All funds raised will go towards Rory’s Wish to Walk campaign.