Little TJ is just two years and four months old, yapping non-stop, loves Cocomelon and Peppa Pig and will bop to the tune of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ at every opportunity.
But TJ is, in fact, a miracle child.
Born to Claire McDaid and Jay Neetham who live in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7, the couple were shocked when 30 weeks into the pregnancy they were advised their baby would be badly deformed, would have no quality of life and would not live long.
“We were told her brain was badly swollen and her spine could not be detected,” said Claire. “The scan should have been done weeks earlier, but owing to an error in the system, it was unfortunately delayed and I was advised to go to England to abort our precious baby.
“It was a stressful and traumatic time for us both, as we prayed for her survival. She was born on October 7, 2023. We had no clothes bought for her – as we had been planning her funeral!”
But TJ did survive, and proved very much to be a miracle baby.
Named for her two grandmothers, both deceased – Tina McDaid from Donegal and Joan (Neetham nee Carey) who was born in the liberties but reared her family in Tallaght, – little TJ remained in Temple Street for two months before the couple could take her home.
“She had surgery for the closure of her spine only two days after she was born which took a long while to heal. Because of Covid, we were practically locked up for two years at home, the risk of infection was ever present. She also had a shunt inserted into her brain to drain the fluid and transfer it to her stomach.
“She really is a wee warrior,” said Claire. “We were told she would never walk but she is a really outgoing, bubbly, little girls and it’s great to hear her talk non-stop – we were also told she’d never speak!”
Having been told that little TJ would never walk, the couple took her to the Peto Institute in Budapest.
“After six weeks, they had her up on her knees and she is now crawling. She is awaiting feet surgery here to enable her to stand up, but the waiting list is so long, it’s appalling. However, experts at Peto Institute assure us, that once she has the required foot surgery, they will have her walking within a year!
“The surgery we know will be intense,” said Claire. “But she has had no physio here in Ireland since October last. She has the ability to walk so hence we are anxious to get the surgery and take her to Budapest and get her walking!”
Big hearted Dublin GAA
TJ’s father Jay is a real Dublin fan, and little TJ has already shown her colours as a ‘True Blue’!
To fund her treatment and therapy in Budapes, TJ’s parents launched a GoFundMe page but Dublin GAA Fans FB page have come on board, and donated a signed Dublin jersey, kindly donated by the County Board.
“All donations made will be entered into a draw and a winner picked on St Patrick’s Day. We are so pleased with this,” said Claire. “One entry costs €5, three entries for €10 and eight entries for €20.”
Dublin GAA Fans wrote: “To enable TJ to walk, this beautiful little girl needs the highest quality physiotherapy, which is available in Hungary and very expensive.
“TJ has a long journey ahead and it will be a long hard road for her parents, Claire and Jay.
Please click into the link to donate and be entered in to the draw. It will be much appreciated. Let’s help this precious little Dub to walk.
Already, the fan page has raised over €1,850 and a main GoFundMe page has raised almost €33, 000. But TJs care and treatment could cost up to €120,000 over the coming two years, so please if you’d like to get this True Dub up and walking.
All donations gratefully accepted.