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Life-saving appeal for baby Dan now halfway to €2m target

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Laois footballers Niall and Aisling Donoher with baby Dan

Laois footballers Niall and Aisling Donoher with baby Dan

Laois footballers Niall and Aisling Donoher with baby Dan

A virtual fundraiser launched by two GAA players for ground-breaking treatment of their son's previously incurable condition is halfway to its target of €2m.

Former Laois footballers Niall and Aisling Donoher launched the appeal for new treatment for their son Dan, born on March 28 last year and diagnosed with a severe type 1 SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) condition on December 6.

The illness is extremely rare, progressively damaging the muscles used for swallowing, speaking and breathing, along with requiring ventilator support.

Until recently, there was no cure. However, a groundbreaking treatment called Zolgensma has now become available in America but costs $2.125m (€1.9m) - the most expensive treatment in the world.

After 45 days of fundraising, the couple have officially raised more than €1m for little Dan.

His mother said: "The day Dan was diagnosed is a day we will never forget.

"Our whole world came crashing down, our hearts were broken and it was difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

"What has happened in the last few weeks has just been remarkable.

"During what is already quite a difficult and challenging time for the country, the level of support and generosity people have shown has just been amazing and this now gives us real hope for Dan.

Kindness

"We can hope one day our son can help his daddy on the farm, play fetch with his dog Bobby, join his friends outside and simply pick up that yellow ball.

"We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for their kindness."

SMA type 1 is the number one killer of infants under the age of two. Life expectancy is 18-24 months.

Brendan Quigley, chairman of the Do It For Dan Trust, said because Dan is already a year old, they are against the clock to raise enough money.

"Dan has a very short window (12 months) to receive the lifesaving treatment so we are against the clock, but we will do it.

"We are only halfway there but to have achieved this in such a short space of time is phenomenal.

"We would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who has already supported us, and appeal to anyone who can help in any manner at all to support our future initiatives and events."