An Irish teenager who has battled an aggressive cancer for 10 years is to be given pioneering new treatment in the US after a huge fundraising effort.
Neuroblastoma sufferer Robyn Smyth (13), from Whitehall, north Dublin, will be the first Irish person to be admitted on to a treatment trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.
She was accepted on to the trial several months ago after being assessed at a Michigan hospital where she has been treated for three years.
But because her family did not have the funds to pay, it could not go ahead and Robyn’s health had begun to deteriorate.
Her mother Bernadette Dornan-Smyth made a desperate plea for funds and was delighted when the target of €326,000 was reached this weekend.
She told well-wishers: “We reached the magic mark of having enough money to pay for the groundbreaking trial treatment over the weekend and all of the family can’t put into words how grateful and relieved we are.
“My head was spinning at the thought of getting Robyn this far and not being able to get her on the trial that could potentially put an end to this monster.
“We don’t know what the future holds but because of you we have hope.”
Robyn will fly to New York on Wednesday and meet the medical team who will treat her on Thursday.
Ms Dornan-Smyth added: “We are all so relieved but worried too. After we make the upfront payment to the hospital, there will be no money left.
“So I’m pleading with people to keep donating as there will be non-stop flight and living costs.
“I’ve come this far for my daughter who doesn’t know what it’s like to live a life without sickness and I’ll fight and fight to keep her with us. She deserves to have a life but she’s so fragile right now.
“Our flight on Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
“Robyn’s health battles have obviously affected our family over the years and it hasn’t been easy but it’s made us strong too and we will never give up on her.”
Robyn was given just a 30pc chance of surviving when she was diagnosed with cancer at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
Three years ago, her chances dropped to 5pc and her family were told to bring her home to die. But they decided to fundraise to take her to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan.
She has been on more than 80 flights to the US since and continues to have chemotherapy and other treatment at Our Lady’s.
Until last month, fundraising had stalled and just €70,000 had been raised for the New York trial. Ms Dornan-Smyth’s plea led to Erin McGregor, sister of UFC fighter Conor, starting a floss dance challenge to help the cause.
“Donations can be made on [email protected], idonate.ie/robynslife and gofundme.com/robynslife,” added Ms Dornan-Smyth.