Brave teen Aoife 'keeps slogging' to take Leaving Cert exams
When most 18-year-olds think about their Leaving Certificate they probably wish they did not have to sit the exams.
However, Aoife Kenny, who lives in south Dublin, cannot wait.
She just wants to be like any other teenager, looking forward to her future.
The past three-and-a-half years have been a living nightmare for the once outgoing young girl, her parents Linda and Kevin, and the rest of her family.
Aoife is fighting several medical conditions, including Lyme disease and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and suffers with fatigue, chronic gastritis and sensitivity to light and sound.
Since starting school at St Raphaela's, she continued to be plagued by viral infections that would last for weeks on end.
After a school trip to Germany in October 2015, she became extremely ill and was hospitalised for several weeks.
Her family then sought medical help from the Mater Hospital, which diagnosed her with chronic Lyme disease, and later a Harley Street clinic in London, which diagnosed her with ME.
"She had never suffered from illness until that year and it was the beginning of a road I would rather have not travelled. It was the journey to hell," Aoife's mum Linda said.
Linda said that her daughter suffers on a daily basis from fatigue, headaches, constant head pressure, dizziness, brain fog and nausea.
"The effects from these intrusive illnesses have devastated Aoife's life. She can no longer function and live her life as any other teenage girl should do," she added.
"Attending school, completing her Leaving Certificate, playing Gaelic football, shredding the guitar and many other activities have all fallen by the wayside. The simplest of tasks can be difficult. She no longer can attend school."
Aoife is being home-schooled, but is struggling and finds it challenging to study and retain information due to the fatigue.
"She keeps slogging along to reach her goal, to complete her Leaving Certificate in June, which was impossible for her to do last year due to her illness," said Linda, a project manager with a landscaping company.
"In desperation and on recommendations I took Aoife to the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida last November.
"She had all types of treatments and an appointment was made in the stem cell clinic, as there was no noticeable improvement in her health after three weeks of treatments.
"The results of the blood analysis came back in January and they indicated that Aoife is suffering from severe immune dysfunction.
"She has no ability to fight any viruses or bacteria."
The family is devastated by the news but has been advised her to begin stem cell treatment as soon as possible.
They plan to travel to Germany this summer to begin treatment but need to raise €75,000 in funding to pay for her treatment.
Donations can be made to aoifesjourney.com