A seven-year-old girl from Mallow in County Cork has started her journey to the US for a life-saving operation.
Anna Browne’s life changed dramatically when she was diagnosed at the age of six with a significant brain injury, known as bilateral PVL of the brain which resulted in spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a condition inhibiting movement of the lower limbs.
This diagnosis came as a devastating blow to both Anna and her parents whose daily routine has changed drastically.
Over the last year, a major fundraising drive took place across Cork called 'Anna’s Dream to Dance' to send her for treatment in St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri on August 14.
While there, she will undergo elective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), a procedure that involves the detection and severing of sensory nerves causing spasticity in the lower limbs.
It was a huge challenge to raise the €100,000 required to cover the cost of the operation, therapy requirements, follow up treatments and travel to and from the US, however they did achieve this and the family are flying to America this morning.
Anna’s mother, Evelyn, spoke this morning to Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today show as they were boarding their flight to America from Shannon Airport.
Evelyn said Anna was very excited to be going to the US with her parents and two sisters.
She said: "She was a bit upset last night, but she is all excited today with all the excitement in the airport.
"It was a tough two days leaving two kids behind, but they will be fine, they will be well looked after we have plenty of friends and family."
Before catching their flight, Evelyn expressed her thanks to everyone who helped raise the money.
She said: "A huge thanks to people, without the people of Cork, Mallow, Bween, Mourneabbey, Clydagh, everywhere, we couldn't have done it."
Anna is currently only able to walk short distances but it is hoped that surgery will change this.
Evelyn had earlier told Cork's Evening Echo: "I will be forever grateful to everyone who donated for Anna. Their kindness means she will no longer have to live her life on the sidelines.
"No longer will I have to make up excuses for why she can't attend Irish dancing classes. She will be able to live a life like that of any other child.
"The community has changed, not just Anna's life but the whole family's. Anna's siblings have been in the shadows since we started fundraising for Anna. At least now we'll be able to focus our attention on the others as well. "