A fundraising effort is underway across Youghal and west Waterford in support of a six-year-old boy due to undergo a bone marrow transplant in Britain next month.
Shay McInerney, from Youghal, has contracted XLP1, an x-linked lymphoproliferative disease that causes the immune system to overreact to infections.
The hugely debilitating condition occurs after a gene changes on the X chromosome. It almost exclusively affects boys and has one chance in a million of being contracted,
Shay is the son of Steven and Deborah McInerney and brother to teenage sister Róisín. The family live in the Quarry Road area, where Shay has been described as a "happy, smiling, active little boy". Shay first became ill last June with pneumonia-like symptoms for which he was treated at Dublin’s Temple Street hospital.
He relapsed in early December and was again brought to Temple Street, where his condition quickly deteriorated and he spent Christmas week on a ventilator and stabilised. He was transferred to Crumlin’s children’s hospital on January 1 where his illness was eventually diagnosed.
Shay is now being prepared for a bone marrow transplant to meet his short-term needs, and will spend up to six months at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital.
In a short, welcome respite from preparations, the little boy enjoyed a visit to Dublin Zoo with his dad last week. With his parents relocating to Newcastle with him, plus ongoing treatment afterwards in Dublin, the family faces enormous bills.
“On a positive note doctors are hopeful of a positive outcome due to his young age”, says family friend Billy Harty.
Billy is one of a group of fundraisers in Ardmore, where Shay’s dad is zookeeper and animal care worker at the village’s open farm and mini zoo. “The family lived in Ardmore for a while and were active in the community and well liked,” says Billy.
With hearts touched across the region, a Shine4Shay GoFundMe page has surpassed €40,000 in a “fantastic level of support”, Billy adds.
Events thus far have included a non-uniform day at Youghal’s Bunscoil Mhuire, sea swimming and a major raffle hosted by the open farm, while a large group of Youghal musicians plan to record a special song.
People can also send their messages of hope to firstname.lastname@example.org