Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Stem cells from unborn sibling could help Megan see for first time

Five-year-old Megan with mum Leanne Traynor
Stem cells could help Megan see for first time

A family from Northern Ireland is hoping to travel to China for a miracle operation which would use cells from the umbilical cord of their unborn baby to allow their five-year-old daughter to see for the first time.

Pregnant Leanne Traynor (24) from Belfast is raising funds for the pioneering stem cell treatment, which is not available in the UK, for little Megan who is one of only two children in Northern Ireland born with Septo-optic Dysplasia (SOD).

The debilitating condition has left her with a multitude of problems. She suffers from epilepsy, diabetes insipidus - which means she can't control her bladder - and she has an underactive thyroid.

The brave little girl must also endure daily hormone injections and multiple medications, and she will have to go through puberty artificially.

The family needs to raise £30,000 for the treatment in China which could give Megan the hope of a better life.

In the meantime, however, her parents must come up with £1,500 to store at the Royal Victoria Hospital the vital umbilical cord of their second child, who is due in seven weeks.

Leanne told the Belfast Telegraph: "They have told us they can store my new baby's umbilical cord, which contains the precious stem cells that we need.

"Then, within a year, we hope to raise enough money to take Megan to China for the operation, which is not available in the UK.

"We have been trying to find a cure for five years, but we've just found out that it's possible. Megan needs this operation.

"We don't know what to do to raise the money, so we are appealing to the public to help us."

Megan was born with Septo-optic Dysplasia (SOD) which has left her with a multitude of problems.

"Megan has never seen my face," said Leanne.

"She doesn't know what her mummy looks like.

"It would mean so much to me if Megan could see, even a little bit."

She added: "When she walks around the house, she bumps into things and she hurts herself. It's hard to watch."

Retail manager Leanne and her husband Stuart (27), a law student, recently moved to Belfast to be close to Megan's school.

"We're working around Megan," she said.

"We're getting desperate. We've actually given up everything for Megan's lifestyle and we just want her to have as normal a life as possible."

Megan is one of two children in Northern Ireland who suffer from SOD.

The parents of two-year-old Newtownabbey girl Dakota Clarke, who also has the disease, have launched a fund-raising appeal for the revolutionary operation.

If you can help Megan contact cmcneilly@belfasttelegraph.co.uk .

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