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Cancer victim’s final bequest to help baby Sergio

A baby who is currently enduring gruelling surgery to reconnect his digestive system has benefited from a fund raised by a cancer treatment campaigner whose funeral takes place today.

Cathy Durkin, 41, who died on Saturday, gave some of the money raised to pay for her treatment to Sergio O’Connor’s parents, her neighbours in Dublin.

A fundraising campaign launched before the HSE agreed to pay for the treatment raised €77,500.

Ms Durkin, a mother of three, had kept a photo of Sergio, who has a rare digestive disorder, beside her hospital bed.

Ms Durkin told her story on RTÉ radio’s Liveline programme last April and began a blog, prompting a fundraising campaign.

Liveline presenter Joe Duffy became emotional after a recorded tribute to Ms Durkin was played at the end of the programme yesterday.

Sergio, who is 16 months old and from Donnycarney, faces another major operation this week in Boston University Children’s Hospital. The boy was flown to Boston on the Government jet last April after waiting a year to grow strong enough for the surgery to repair an incomplete digestive tract.

His father, a job skills trainer at the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin, has taken unpaid leave to be at his son’s side.

Mr O’Connor said that members of his family would be attend Ms Durkin’s funeral. "Cathy was very supportive of our cause and had kept one of Sergio’s cards on her gallery wall in the hospital. She was a brilliant woman and will be sadly missed," he said.

Sergio, who has already undergone five operations at the Boston hospital, has been heavily medicated and was induced into a coma for a time. Mr O’Connor said Sergio faced one last major operation and, all going well, he hopes he will be fit enough to go home in two months.

Sergio recently underwent corrective surgery lasting 12 hours to repair a small hole that developed between his oesophagus and stomach and made him ill.

He will undergo surgery this week to strengthen his windpipe. Doctors treating him are hopeful he will be able to breathe without a ventilator before he goes home.

* www.helpsergio.com.