Couple weep for joy as Mark (3) walks after 'miracle' surgery in US
A COUPLE wept with joy after seeing their three-year-old son walk unaided following a successful operation in the US.
Kevin and Fidelma Dolan said it has been "a dream come true" to see little Mark take his first steps after pioneering surgery in Missouri, thanks to a €135,000 fundraising campaign by family, neighbours, friends and workmates.
The family, from Ahascragh, Co Galway, were also astounded when a charity auction in aid of the Mark's Wish To Walk appeal was backed by the village's most famous son, milliner Philip Treacy, who insisted on designing a one-off headpiece for yesterday's sale.
The event also featured a football signed by the entire Manchester City team, Galway and Mayo jerseys signed by the senior panels, an Irish rugby ball signed by Robbie Henshaw and a pair of Tony McCoy's riding jodhpurs.
Kevin and Fidelma said they were "absolutely overwhelmed" by the success of the operation and the kindness of people in supporting Mark's dream to walk.
The couple mortgaged themselves to the hilt to raise €60,000 of the estimated €135,000 cost for the surgery and rehabilitation in St Louis. They are now within sight of their fundraising target.
"Mark is able to walk a few steps and he's getting stronger by the day," said Kevin.
Mark was assessed as an ideal candidate for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) at a clinic in St Louis.
The clinic has helped several Irish children suffering from conditions such as cerebral palsy and motor delay syndrome, which Mark has, to escape their reliance on wheelchairs.
"We just weren't going to accept he would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life," said Fidelma.
Donations can be made to AIB Athlone, account 48349059, sort code 932264.