Katie’s fight to keep walking
“She's in pain but the sad part of it is she's actually used to that pain – it's part of her life.”
A Cork mum is raising funds to bring her 15 year old daughter with cerebral palsy overseas for life-changing surgery that will keep her out of her wheelchair.
Having been turned down numerous times by Irish doctors, Antoinette Burke must now bring her daughter Katie to Poland for an assessment to see whether the surgery can be done.
The complex and expensive procedure would involve the reconstruction of Katie’s hip, which has been dislocated since she was 2, as well as the rotation of her right leg, thus alleviating her constant pain and allowing her to walk far more comfortably.
In 2014, Antoinette had no choice but to bring Katie to St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri when her Irish doctors said they couldn’t help her. There, Katie underwent a procedure that saw her leave her wheelchair and walk independently for the first time in her life at age 7. Antoinette said Irish doctors have used “every excuse under the sun” not to operate on Katie but that it hasn’t dampened her daughter’s spirits one bit.
She said: “At this stage I’ve just lost all faith in the health service.”
She continued: “They told us, ‘No, no, don’t bring Katie to America. She’ll end up stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of her life’.”
“When we came home we had a meeting with her team. Katie walked in with nothing, she had no crutches, no nothing. They said: ‘Oh my God, this is amazing!’ and Katie said: ‘Yeah, and you said it wouldn’t work’, to the doctor.”
She added: “Everything is negativity and because we stepped outside the little HSE box we’re supposed to stay in, they don’t like it.”
After returning from the US, Katie received very little treatment, leaving it up to Antoinette to continue her physio at home, determined never to see her daughter in a wheelchair again.
“We had some money left over from the fundraising after paying off the surgery, so we paid for private physio for her. I now do her physio with her at home. Between me and her, there’s not a hope in hell she’ll go back in that wheelchair,” said Antoinette.
After some searching, she found a doctor based in Florida who also operates a clinic in Poland who agreed to see Katie this coming January for an assessment. The doctor told Antoinette he believes if Katie doesn’t get the surgery she will end up with arthritis in her hip.
Antoinette said: “She has an amazing outlook on life, nothing gets her down. If someone is looking at her, she’s like, ‘What are you looking at?’. She rolls with the punches.”
To raise funds for her daughter’s needs, Antoinette has set up a GoFundMe campaign with a target of €20,000 which will be used for travel expenses, assessments, her surgical procedure, and her continued physio care in Ireland.
To donate, visit gofundme.com and search ‘Katie’s Fight To Keep Walking’.