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New hope for Ulster boy with incurable disease

By Claire Regan

The family of an Ulster child hope he can beat the odds and defeat a rare, fatal illness.

North Belfast baby Dylan Dicks and his parents spent a special Christmas together - one they thought might never happen. To the family's delight, another child will arrive in 2008.

Dylan (1) was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs Disease (TSD) in January. There is no cure for TSD, which has hit only six people in the UK in 20 years. Sufferers become blind, deaf and gradually paralysed, before dying by age four or five.

Parents Carrie Davidson and Gary Dicks took him to Germany for a pioneering bone marrow transplant which appears to have halted the disease so far.

Dylan has been back regularly to Tubingen Children's Hospital where he underwent the gruelling transplant in early May. The latest MRI scan has shown no signs of deterioration to his brain, which would be expected if he was succumbing to TSD.

Said Carrie: "We still don't know if the transplant has stopped the disease but things are looking as good as they can at this stage and we're very happy with that. It's giving us hope."

The Tigers Bay family are now looking positively to next year. Carrie is delighted to be pregnant and TSD has been ruled out.

"There were times that we thought Dylan wouldn't make it to his first birthday and now he's 18 months. It's a very special Christmas for us. I am aware that it is a special occasion that we might not have been able to have with him," his mum (27) said. "It has been a tough year, I won't be sad to see the back of it. But things are looking positive now."

She thanked those who donated money to take Dylan to Germany: "The support was overwhelming and meant the world to us."

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