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Friends of Jack (9) drum up support


Jack McNiffe playing his drum in the kitchen of his family home

Jack McNiffe playing his drum in the kitchen of his family home

Jack McNiffe playing his drum in the kitchen of his family home

JACK McNiffe loves playing the drums - though he can't walk, talk or eat properly due to a rare combination of a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and CINCA.

The nine-year-old is the only known person in the world to have both conditions. CINCA is a rare degenerative auto-inflammatory disease.

It is a syndrome that causes severe inflammation and can lead to arthritis - Jack was diagnosed when he was two.

He now has chronic arthritis and uses a wheelchair. But despite his range of medical complications, Jack is a positive child.

"Despite his problems he just loves people, he beams from ear to ear whenever anyone comes into the house," his grand-aunt Polly O'Loughlin told the Herald.

Jack is a familiar face in Crumlin Hospital where he lived for the first three years of his life.

"The staff are wonderful and they just love to see him coming. They really are mad about him in there," the Brittas Bay-based singer said.

Jack now lives at home with his mum Aisling and his older sister Molly.

"Jack and his mum have a very special relationship - they are really crazy about each other. They have even developed a kind of language," Ms O'Loughlin said.


Though he is based at home, his wide range of medical conditions, including scoliosis and lung problems, mean regular trips to hospital.

Jack's great-aunt has decided to raise money in his name for the Rheumatology department in the Dublin hospital.

The singer, who is originally from Sandymount, decided to turn her hand to song-writing after a workshop with John Spillane.

She penned and recorded a song called Jack which is centred around her upbeat nephew's love of playing the drums.

The CD will be sold in Avoca shops and Tower records stores across the city.