A DREAM has come true for a brave young Irish girl who was able to walk unaided for the first time in her life, thanks to a pioneering US operation.
Katie Byrne's parents, Antoinette and Robert, wept tears of joy as their seven-year-old daughter took her tentative first steps following special surgery at a Missouri hospital.
Katie was able to undergo the operation after a flood of public donations following an article in the Herald about the little girl's plight.
Robert and Antoinette admitted they were "absolutely overwhelmed" by the generosity of Irish people which enabled Katie to reach her €60,000 funding target.
The couple - from Coolock and Stepaside in Dublin but who live in Cobh, Co Cork - were convinced Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) would transform their daughter's life.
Katie underwent the procedure in Missouri on October 23 - and has been engaged in intensive therapy since.
Last week, Robert and Antoinette were moved to tears as Katie was able to walk unaided for the first time.
"It is a dream come true, not just for Katie for but our entire family," Antoinette said.
The special SDR procedure at Washington University Hospital has been hugely successful in helping patients like Katie resolve their muscle, hamstring and tendon problems resulting from cerebral palsy.
"She is such a wonderful girl, she is brave and intelligent," the couple said.