Danny Browne is the three-year-old son of Kelly Ann Geraghty of Ballygar, Co. Galway and Val Browne, Roscommon, who is so determined, funny and full of life. Like other young boys, Danny is fascinated by tractors, fire trucks and anything with wheels!
As a baby, Danny never kicked his legs, was very slow to crawl and had poor muscle tone and struggled to sit up without support. At a developmental check, Danny was referred to physio and the Brownes began a journey they could never have imagined taking. Following numerous assessments with physios, pediatricians, neurologists and other consultants, at two years old, Danny was given the devastating diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia. To his parents’ dismay, they were advised that Danny could be wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life.
Spastic Diplegia means that signals from the brain do not communicate correctly with various muscle groups. This affects Danny’s legs, ankles and lower back in particular. His muscles are held so rigid and tight that it is impossible for him to stand or walk independently. This causes him extreme pain and discomfort at times.
Daily life can be very difficult for Danny. “It’s heartbreaking to watch Danny’s little sister, Emily, run around effortlessly, while Danny watches on in envy” said Danny’s mum, Kelly Ann. “Danny loves learning and wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. We are determined to give him the best chance possible to walk independently and make his wishes come true, whatever they may be”.
After learning more about Danny’s condition and talking to other families that are similarly affected, his parents decided to take things into their own hands in order to give Danny the best chance of walking. Numerous people recommended First Step Therapy Centre in Limerick and Danny has been attending sessions there on a regular basis for the past several months. Kelly Ann and Val have put their savings into funding this very intensive, private physiotherapy and have seen a good improvement in Danny’s strength and mobility.
The Brownes also learned about Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery and its potential benefits for Danny. There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, but Danny has been offered hope as he has been accepted as a candidate for this life-changing SDR surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Missouri. Dr. T.S. Park of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a world-renowned expert in this surgery and has accepted Danny as a candidate for the SDR procedure in February 2020. Dr. Park has performed SDR surgery for over twenty years on thousands of children affected by Cerebral Palsy. This surgery will not only reduce Danny’s spasticity, but will also get rid of the daily pain associated with it. It will mean that watching life from the sidelines will become a thing of the past for Danny.
In order to prepare for the procedure and undergo the intense physiotherapy required following the surgery, Danny will need to spend up to six weeks in St. Louis. The cost of the surgery, travel and associated costs, as well as ongoing physiotherapy for Danny in the months and years following the procedure, are monumental for a young family. Danny’s First Steps Trust is seeking the support of Danny’s family, friends and community to help him to walk and to reach his full potential.
Danny’s First Steps is being launched to celebrate Danny’s 3rd birthday on February 1st. There are several major fundraising events planned in Roscommon and Ballygar over the coming year. More information about Danny’s journey and upcoming fundraising events can be found at www.facebook.com/DannysFirstSteps.
A public meeting will be held in the Mattie McDonagh Community Centre in Ballygar on Thursday, 31st of January (tonight) at 9 pm. Anyone who would like to be involved in supporting Danny’s First Steps is invited to come along.
Online donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/DannysFirstSteps