Public donations help send Irish teen to US for groundbreaking cancer treatment

Public donations help send Irish teen to US for groundbreaking cancer treatment
Bernadette Dornan Smyth and her daughter Robyn at Dublin airport this morning.

Sarah Slater

A teenager who will become the first Irish person to receive groundbreaking treatment in her cancer battle flew out to the US this morning thanks to public donations.

Never in her wildest dreams did Bernadette Dornan Smyth expect that her emotional outpouring over her failing attempts to raise €326,000 for her daughter Robyn’s medical treatment, actually help and spur the public to donate.

The 13-year-old, from Whitehall in Dublin, has been fighting aggressive cancer, neuroblastoma, since the age of three and has already undergone extensive treatment.

Robyn and Bernadette flew out to New York on an early morning flight.

We can’t believe we are actually going out to New York and at last we are getting on this dreamed for flight. It’s been a real battle financially but this treatment will mean so much for Robyn’s health.

“I’m so nervous travelling out here more than ever but also so relieved and can’t thank the public for all their financial help which we will always need. The next few days out here will be intense but it has to be that way.”

Robyn was accepted on to the new trial treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York several months ago following two good scans while attending the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan.

Robyn Smyth.
Robyn Smyth.

But not having enough money to pay for the treatment meant that it could not go ahead until now and as a result, Robyn’s health has started to deteriorate.

“We reached the magic mark of having enough money to pay for the groundbreaking trial treatment last weekend and all of the family can’t put into words how grateful and relieved we are.

My head was spinning at the thought of getting Robyn this far and not being able to get her on the trial that could potentially put an end to this monster. We don't know what the future holds. But I’d fly around the world a million times to ensure Robyn was well.

“We are all so relieved but worried too. After we make the upfront payment to the hospital then there will be no money left.

“So I’m pleading with people to keep donating as there will be non stop flight and living costs while in the US. Obviously, we will be using up as much as our personal finances as well."

Up until last month, fundraising had stalled and just €70,000 had been raised. The plea led to Erin McGregor, sister of UFC king Conor, starting a floss dance challenge in a desperate bid to help save Robyn’s life whom she has been secretly helping.


The brave teenager was given just a 30% chance of surviving when she was first diagnosed with cancer at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.

It was when the Dublin girl’s chances of survival dropped to five per cent, three years ago and was told by Irish doctors to bring her home to die, that her family decided to fundraise to take her to US-based Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan three years ago.

In between her visits to the US, of which she has been on more than 80 flights since 2015, Robyn continues to take chemotherapy tablets and has blood tests and other related treatment at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Donations can be made on Robyn's websiteiDonate and Go Fund Me pages.

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