The family of a Belfast baby suffering a rare fatal illness were last night living in high hope that a gruelling bone marrow transplant may have halted the progression of his incurable disease.
The parents of little Dylan Dicks, who arrived back home from Germany at the weekend, have to wait until next month to find out if the pioneering treatment has saved him from a disease expected to kill him by his fifth birthday.
But Gary Dicks (22) and Carrie Davidson (27) say they are heartened that their one-year-old son has shown no signs of deterioration from the rapidly progressing Tay Sachs Disease (TSD) since undergoing the treatment in early May.
There is currently no cure or treatment for TSD, which has hit just six people in the UK in the past 20 years.
It will see Dylan become blind, deaf and gradually paralysed before dying if a cure is not found.
The transplant is his parents' last hope for their only child.
The Tigers Bay couple spoke to the Belfast Telegraph last night about their relief at being allowed to take Dylan home after he impressed medical chiefs at University Children's Hospital in Tubingen with a quick recovery from the transplant.
Ms Davidson said: "We thought we could be out in Germany for about six months but the doctors were really impressed with how he has recovered from the transplant. There were no problems or side-effects, everything has gone as well as can be expected so far.
"It's such a relief to be able to come home so early. You really need your friends and family around you at a time like this."
The family will have to return to Tubingen in August for Dylan to have an MRI scan. Only on this examination of his brain will doctors be able to assess if the operation has been able to stop the TSD progressing.
"They will be able to tell then if there has been any further damage to his brain. We are very hopeful because TSD attacks very quickly and we haven't seen any change in him. We would notice if he was deteriorating and he's been doing fine," his mother added.
"He's sleeping better than ever before and he has started to laugh and babble now. We're very proud of him."