Kira Clarke is a stunning and bubbly 16-year-old who is into her music – Adele, Dave, Gavin James and Elle Henderson. But the teenager has lived with a crippling disability and repeated surgeries since she was three years of age.
Parents Natalia Dinsmore and Michael Clarke say they noticed she was dragging her left foot as a toddler.
“After extensive doctors’ visits, scans and tests at Temple Street Hospital, we got the heart breaking news,” said Natalia “that our wonderful young daughter was diagnosed with Pilocytic Astrocytoma, which is a tumour that effects the brain or spinal cord. In Kira’s case, her tumour is on her spine (C3 to T3).
“This effects Kira’s walking, balance, muscle tone and muscle weakness. In late 2012, we got the devastating news that Kira’s tumour had grown; Kira underwent immediate surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible.
“After surgery, Kira’s condition deteriorated and she was left with complete weakness in her left side, and began using a wheelchair for long periods of walking, increased muscle spasms and muscle tone. After seven long seven long weeks Kira was discharged from hospital.”
Thereafter, Kira spent months at the National Rehabilitation Hospital to help her recover. Since then, Kira has undergone repeated surgeries for torn meniscus. But the damage was more extensive over the years and Kira is now a full-time wheelchair user.
“The doctors are still in the dark as to why it occurred; our main focus now is maintaining Kira’s health so it doesn’t deteriorate even more.
“These past four years as parents have been unimaginable, Seeing your child being able-bodied and walking without assistance to then that suddenly see her movement taken away has been heart-breaking.
But Kira is a positive young woman; whilst Natalia and I chatted, the youngster was enjoying Tayto Park with her 13-year-old son, Niall.
“Thank God, it’s wheelchair friendly and all rides/entertainment are accessible via lifts, etc,” said her mum. Kira attends St Domonic’s College in Ballyfermot and will be attending fifth year from September. She hopes to return to horse riding which she had to abandon following her most recent surgery
The family home is located in Cherry Orchard and while the family applied for the Home Adaptation Grant to extend the ground floor and add a wet room and bedroom downstairs for Kira, the money will only cover a fraction of the cost.
“It’s so hard for Kira to get upstairs to the bathroom, and we investigated putting a lift where the stairs are, but we were told it would be too narrow and unsafe,” said Natalia.
As such, Natalia and Michael set up a GoFundMe page to raise €20,000 to subsidise the works required.
“We looked at the possibility of selling our home here and moving elsewhere, to a more appropriate home but we just couldn’t afford the prices. Housing in Dublin is gone through the roof.”
Works have commenced at the Clarke family home in Cherry Orchard.
“We’re currently living in my mother’s house near Dunshaughlin, in Meath while the extension is being built. The builders said it would take 10-12 weeks and we’ve already been here since May 15.
“We are so looking forward to going home when Kira will have a wet room and bedroom downstairs, this will give her the independence she needs and she loves having friends over. As a normal teenager, she loves her make-up, style and hair!”
“But the inflation costs of building materials, etc following Covid has left us struggling. We’d be so grateful for any contribution to our fundraiser on GoFundMe,” said Natalia. “Every euro will be appreciated and we thank you’re you for your generosity,” said Natalia and Michael.
You can donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/making-our-accessible-for-kiras-needs
The couple thanked Kira’s consultant Jane Pears at Oncology in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Ireland and also Enable Ireland Tallaght which Kira attended until recently; also Temple Street Hospital and Stewarts Care in Palmerstown.
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