Meath community helping brave Dan complete ‘bucket list’ before losing his sight

Daniel Haslam and his sister Niamh with their dog Scamp at home in Ratoath, Co Meath. Picture: Barry Cronin

A big-hearted community has rallied around a Meath-based family who want to help their eight-year old complete his bucket list before he loses his eyesight.

Daniel Haslam has been diagnosed with optical atrophy which means he will go blind within the next six years.

Daniel, who has autism, has also experienced hearing loss and is awaiting the results of a test for a genetic disorder, which could complicate his health matters even further. He received the eyesight diagnosis less then a month ago, after mum Carol started investigating why his prescription for glasses was getting stronger every six months.

“We got him checked when he was four years old and got him reading glasses,” she said. “However, his prescription was constantly changing with every six-month check-up.

“From March to September last year, he went from being able to watch the TV from the couch to having to stand eight inches away from it. Eventually, I got an appointment with a specialist in Temple St, who diagnosed optical atrophy on January 11. They also raised red flags in relation to his hearing.

“I had always put down little hearing things to autism but Daniel has experienced unusual hearing loss, from the low tones to the high tones which means he doesn’t hear conversations that well. We have thankfully managed to get hearing aids for him.”

Daniel and Niamh with mum Carol and dad Kevin
Daniel and Niamh with mum Carol and dad Kevin

However, the eyesight loss is irreversible, and Carol and husband Kevin have decided to try to bring Daniel to as many places he wants to see before he can’t see anymore.

The couple, who recently moved to Ratoath, Co Meath, from Dublin, are also awaiting genetic test results which could alter his long-term health dramatically.

“We were told that the optic nerve from the eye to the brain is dying and Daniel may have up to six years left of vision — we’re not sure,” she said. “He was very upset about it and was asking heartbreaking questions as to why he has to go blind. He’s even wondering how he could manage to eat his food when he’s blind because he wouldn’t see it on the plate.

“I’ve told him that we’ll bring him on as many adventures to as many places as we can and asked him where he’d like to see. We expected him to say EuroDisney, but he is mad into his geography and wants to see structures like the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids, Big Ben, places like that.”

The community of Meath as well as Daniel’s school in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, and his football club, HHFC Huntstown, Hartstown, have started various fundraisers to help the costs of completing the bucket list.

“Daniel has a special way about him that brings people together. The support we’ve been receiving has been unbelievable and we’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone,” Carol concluded.

The fundraising drive, set up by Carol’s friends has already amassed over half of the €5,000 target.


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