Hope that life saving surgery will cure Zoe

by Emma Nolan

A four-year-old girl from South Dublin is travelling to Newcastle in England for a life changing surgery to hopefully cure her Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.
Zoe Lonergan from Firhouse was diagnosed with the condition two years ago which causes her to live with chronic pain. Despite this her mother Natalie says she is “a sweetheart who is so outgoing and loves everyone”.
For the surgery, Zoe and Natalie will have to spend up to six months living in Newcastle, while her father Dave stays home with Zoe’s baby sister Ali.
The family are holding a fundraising event on April 2 at 8pm in The Goat Bar on Kilmacud Road to raise funds for living costs while living abroad for the surgery as Natalie gave up her job to care for Zoe full time.
They will have to foot the cost of living, accommodation and transport while in Newcastle as well as still paying the bills and mortgage back home so need all the support they can get.
Zoe’s mum Natalie spoke to The Gazette about what this surgery will mean for Zoe and their uncertain but hopeful future.
“The arthritis is in her blood, so it affects her in the way of rashes, temperatures and stiffening of the joints so she’s in a lot of pain and can’t sleep well, she also has trouble walking due to the pain and all the medication she’s on makes her quite sick.”
Zoe’s condition means that she is on a lot of medication such as daily steroids, she also has a hospital appointment once a week.
Natalie said that the fact that Zoe has had this condition for two years and they haven’t been able to get her into remission is “very rare”.
“She’s never had a period of time where she’s been pain free,” she said.
The next step for Zoe is a bone marrow transplant, Natalie said that as part of the treatment Zoe will receive chemotherapy to “wipe out” her immune system so that donor stem cells can be introduced to “hopefully generate a new immune system and cure her”.
Natalie said that the surgery holds a huge risk but there is no other alternative.
“It could either cure her or kill her,” she said.
Zoe will be the fourth child from Ireland to travel for this surgery and the family met the last little girl who had the same condition who is “completely cured” since the surgery, a “big relief” for Zoe and her parents.
Speaking on the event to raise funds, Natalie said they’ve had a “fantastic response” so far and says it should be a great night.
For more information on how you can help Zoe visit the Facebook page Cure For Zoe.

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