Brave baby Ellen Barron McGee flew out to the Domincan Republic on Wednesday, March 28 to receive the first round of stem cell treatment which will hopefully save her life.
Ellen and her parents Tom Barron and Lisa McGee, who live in Esker Hills in Portlaoise are making the long journey for the life saving treatment three weeks early thanks to a generous anonymous donation of €30,000.
“It quiet unbelievable, its mind-blowing for somebody to do this. We’ve no phone number of e-mail address even to send him a thank you letter, but how would you even thank someone who has done that. He just wanted to make sure that Ellen was on the plane,” Ellen’s dad, Tom said.
Ellen, who suffers from an extremely rare mintochondrial disorder, has touched the hearts of people up and down the country and due to generous donations in Laois, Tom’s home town in Dublin and Lisa’s family in Dundalk, the family have raised enough money for the first round of stem cell treatment.
But the fundraising continues to make sure that Ellen receives a further three courses of treatment.
“We have to keep the fundraisers running or we won’t be able to have the second, third and possibly fourth rounds of treatment. Without the subsequent treatments, it will mean the first one has been pointless,” Tom said.
The anonymous donation in Laois combined with a €5,000 donation in Dundalk, €5,000 from the parents of a child in a similar situation to Ellen and €10,000 in donations from the general public means that Ellen can have the treatment this Friday.
The time is now critical for Ellen, whose condition has continued to worsen over the last few weeks. Only last weekend, she began seizing on Saturday morning, but it was Sunday evening before the medication managed to get on top of the seizures.
“The doctor was aware that Ellen was getting worse and was telling us to get over as soon as we could, but we told him we couldn’t afford it and it was going to be April 21 before we would be able to go. Without that person’s donation we may never have got on the plane. We contacted the doctor then and told him to push it forward,” he said.
Ellen’s uncle Paul McGee from Dundalk, is co-ordinating fundraisers across Ireland. He took the phone call which changed Ellen’s fortunes.
“I told him we had got €20k in the bank, and he offered the rest. First I thought it was a set up. I was in absolute shock, I was on the phone in silence for about 15 seconds. There are some great people out there. This is a major boost for us,” says Paul, who intends to carry on fundraising, as Ellen may need several trips, costing €50k each time.
“I want to raise €300,000, and I will do it. We have got a response from the whole country. It’s really touching, especially in the middle of a recession,” he said.