Hurlers drop in on little hero

Galway hurlers Padraic and Cathal Mannion with little Mark Dolan from Ahascragh. PHOTO: GERRY STRONGE

A three-year-old East Galway boy, who is awaiting surgery that would enable him to walk unaided, got the thrill of his life when he was visited by two Galway hurling heroes.

It was a special moment for the parents of little Mark Dolan from Ahascragh when he met up with Galway stars Padraic and Cathal Mannion from the local club.

Mark’s family – joined by their close friends and relations – are raising funds to send him to St. Louis in Missouri for what they hope will be life changing surgery.

Next month, Mark – along with his parents Fidelma and Kevin – will head to the States for the biggest journey of his young life so far.

But it was an exhilarating experience for the little Ahascragh lad when the Mannion brothers paid him a visit and took him to the local hurling ground.

His parents were devastated when they received the news that their twin boy could be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life – but they are not allowing it derail their efforts to see their son walk again.

And Fidelma and Kevin Dolan have been told that surgery in America could provide Mark with the possibility that it could rectify a deficiency in his lower limbs.

Three year old Mark and his twin sister Maeve were born prematurely on August 9, 2012.

In the early months Mark seemed like any other typically developing infant. Even at his nine month developmental assessment Mark passed in all areas.

However, at the turning of his first birthday it became apparent to his parents that Mark was not reaching typical developmental milestones, like sitting independently, rolling over or crawling – basic things they would have expected at this stage and what his twin sister was doing freely.

At this point Fidelma and Kevin became concerned about Mark’s progress and sought professional advice both locally and at Temple Street Hospital where further more intensive investigations were carried out.

After further tests it was evident that Mark suffered from a motor delay which primarily affected his lower extremities. To their horror, they were informed that he could be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.

However, they learned that he could receive surgery in America that could rectify the situation. It will involve a six hour long operation on his lower body.

A local committee have been fundraising for Mark’s operation and so far have managed to raise around €75,000 but it will take more than €120,000 to have the procedure completed.

After his surgery Mark will return home in early November but will need after care in Limerick for two or three days a week for the next two years which will be draining on the family.

But they are very hopeful of a positive ending to his ordeal.