Belfast Telegraph

Anonymous donor to fund US stem-cell surgery for attack victim

By Barry Duggan

An anonymous donor has offered to pay the entire cost of specialist surgery for a man who is hoping to see and walk again after a vicious assault left him blind and paralysed.

Arian Hogan (34) from Ballykeefe, Co Limerick, is hoping that a complex stem cell procedure -- estimated to cost at least ?21,000 -- in the US will allow him get his life back on track.

Confined to a wheelchair, Mr Hogan burst into tears this week when he learnt that an unidentified person was willing to cover the cost.

The generous benefactor contacted Headway -- an organisation which provides rehabilitative services for people with brain injuries -- and informed them of her wishes to provide full financial backing for Mr Hogan.

The identity of the woman is unknown to the Hogan family and she wishes to remain anonymous.

Mr Hogan's sister, Nevis, said they are extremely grateful and cannot thank her brother's donor enough.

"We have no idea who she is. They rang Headway in Dublin and then got onto the Limerick offices and they let us know. What can we say? -- Only thank you over and over again," Ms Hogan said.

The Hogan family had been fundraising for the unique stem cell treatment which will be overseen by Dr Gabriel Lasala near New Orleans. They are waiting for a phonecall to find out when Brian's treatment can begin.

The Irish Stem Cell Foundation said treatments using stem cells only exist for a handful of blood related cancers and rare blood disorders and have urged any patients considering such options to speak with medical professionals beforehand.

Ms Hogan admits there are no guarantees with the procedure. "We have done our research, but put any family in our shoes and what would they do? We know there is no guarantee with stem cell treatments, but we have one shot with this and we want to give Brian every chance. There might be success, there might not, but we'll see," she said.

Mr Hogan went into a three month coma after suffering internal bleeding of the brain when he was punched and struck his head off a footpath in Nottingham, England, in 2009.

He currently lives at Beech Lodge Nursing Home in Bruree, Co Limerick, while his parents remodel their home for him. "We want to thank everyone who has supported Brian so far. There have been people who have helped out in any way they could," Ms Hogan added.

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