Saturday, November 08, 2008

Infant from Ireland receives medical care for seizures, in Chicago

A year after a woman from Northern Ireland came to Chicago to get medical treatment for her young son battling severe epilepsy, an Irish couple whose infant daughter suffers from the disease is also seeking help at Children's Memorial Hospital.

The parents of 13-month-old Katie Maguire were told by health-care providers in Ireland that she probably would die of her nearly constant seizures, said Gary McCann, Katie's father. Katie was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy, McCann said."They were treating the epilepsy with drugs on the hope that something would work," McCann said. "We wanted to find somewhere that could save her life."

Dissatisfied, McCann and Katie's mother, Mekila Maguire, researched other options on the Internet. They came across Children's Memorial Hospital and another family, Charlotte and Billy Caldwell, who had been through similar circumstances.About a year ago, Charlotte Caldwell brought her son, Billy, now 3, to Children's Memorial Hospital to treat the seizures he had suffered since he was 4 months old. Like McCann and Maguire, Caldwell said doctors in Northern Ireland had told her that Billy would die so she sought other options.

Strangers from all over Ireland who were touched by her plight helped raise nearly $300,000 to allow her and Billy get to Chicago and pay for treatment.Since then, Billy has improved dramatically, Caldwell said Wednesday. He is nearly standing on his own and has become very "boisterous" like a typical toddler."Billy and Katie were both sent home to die and given no hope," Caldwell said.

Both families live in
Glenview. McCann and Maguire were touched by the kindness of strangers, who sent them about $400,000 to make their move to the U.S. and get treatment for Katie. McCann said they already have seen a remarkable improvement in Katie.

She is expected to undergo a brain scan Tuesday at Children's Memorial Hospital that, along with other tests, could determine whether she would be a candidate for surgery that would remove a part of her brain responsible for the seizures, said Dr. Douglas Nordli, director of the hospital's Epilepsy Center.

McCann is hopeful, but said the fund making Katie's care possible is dwindling.

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