Oran stepping it out

BACK to his usual happy self, Oran Molly is well on the road to recovery, already stepping out with his walker, as he looks forward to walking independently in the coming months.

BACK to his usual happy self, Oran Molly is well on the road to recovery, already stepping out with his walker, as he looks forward to walking independently in the coming months.

The five year old, from Birr, suffers from spastic diplegia cerebral plays, which means that he couldn’t stand or walk on his own. Last year, his family made the mammoth decision to bring their young son to America for a pioneering operation.

After a hectic five weeks, two operations and a “big adventure” in St Louis, the young boy has already started his intense physiotherapy as he works towards his ultimate goal - to walk unaided. His mum, happily, says that he is now back to his happy self, enjoying walking tall with his two feet flat on the ground as he gets around with the aid of his walker for the moment.

Last month, the Molloy family travelled to St Louis’s Children’s hospital, in the USA, full of hope of what would happen to their son. There, they were under the care of Dr Park, who pioneered the selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure.

This procedure took place on February 14 last and saw surgeons sectioning some of the sensory nerve fibres that come from the muscles and enter his spinal cord. His mum explained that the five hour operation had doctors disabling some of the nerves that were causing Oran difficulties.

The second was undertaken on February 22 last and was a minor day procedure to lengthening Oran’s hamstrings and heel cords as they had not developed fully due to his condition.

Bearing in mind it just a week since the family arrived home, Deirdre told the Offaly Express that he is doing great. “We have been back since Sunday and he has been doing intensive physiotherapy all week.”

From the point of his operations, the five year old is “working very hard”, according his mum while from the point of his prognosis, it is expected that Oran will eventually walk unaided in 12 to 18 months.

“And, so far so good. He is doing a lot of small things. He is wiggling his toes and he has his two feet flat on the ground, something that he could never do before.”

His mum said that he is already walking tall with his walker. “These are small things to other people but these are all very important to enable him to walk eventually.”

It is momentous for the family to watch their little man doing this, considering that he never did any of these things before his life changing operation. Deirdre said it is amazing to watch him walking and stepping with his walker at the moment.

“We never get tired of watching him doing that,” she enthused.

Talking about his first operation, Deirdre said that this went smoothly considering what it entailed. “The scale of this operation was huge” she said adding that Oran had an epidural for three days after this operation. By the fourth day of complete bed rest, Oran was ready to start a intense physiotherapy programme.

His mum said that he tolerated this well. However, it was the second operation, a minor day procedure that seemed to cause the five year old the most difficulty and saw four incisions being made in his leg.

The mum found the support of other parents and children for both herself and Oran. “It was great to have it”. While there, the family also met another Irish family, from Navan, during the stay in the USA, whose daughter had undergone the operation the week before Oran. “It was great to have someone to talk to about it. It was surreal sometimes.”

The ultimate goal now for the five year old is walk unaided in the next year or so. The family will later send back a review video in six months to the hospital so they can assess Oran’s progress. “It is make sure he is making the progress he should be,” she explained.

In the meantime, Oran’s mum was sent home with a home programme for her son and this can be tweaked into the future if the health care specialists in the States feel they need to do to ensure that it meets Oran’s needs over the coming months.

“The support is there all the time to make sure that he is making progress,” Deirdre said pointing out that the hospital in the USA will continue to keep in touch with Oran’s healthcare workers in Ireland to keep him on the road to recovery.

Deirdre admitted that all his therapists that saw him last week were “floored with the difference in him”.

Having raised well over €50,000 with the support of the family, friends and the local community, it seems now the huge decision to bring Oran to the States has been worth it. “We are definitely delighted that we made the decision,” his mum enthused.

Speaking about the support the family has received, Deirdre pointed out that some of the families that she met while in the USA didn’t receive the support they had from all the healthcare professionals, his GP, and the local community.

Deirdre was also overwhelmed by the messages of support, both while they were in the USA and also since they have returned home. However, she was anxious to say that Oran is “only home since Sunday at this stage but so far so good, it is going to plan.”

“I know there is huge work still ahead of us but the operation and the travel are behind us. Everyday is a day forward for us now,” the happy mum concluded.