Cork dad runs the length of Ireland to raise funds for Cappagh orthopaedic hospital

A Cork dad is running the length of Ireland this week, from Malin to Mizen Head, to raise money for the children's ward at the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital after his son was successfully treated there.

Barry Sheehan's son Michael was diagnosed with osteofibrous dysplasia in his left tibia in 2017, when a trip to hospital for a football injury, aged 8, revealed tumours around a fractured leg bone.

"When you hear the word 'tumour' you worry big time," Barry said. "But various biopsies and scans eventually ruled out cancer.

"It was osteofibrous dysplasia, which is essentially a brittle bone. You can have it all over your skeleton or in one limb. Michael had it in one limb."

Micheal, described by his dad as "a fierce sporty kid" subsequently broke that same leg in the same place "eight or nine times, over and over again" and surgery at the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital was scheduled. 

"One of the tumours growing by his ankle was removed successfully. But another tumour in his shin had started to bend the bone like a twig," Barry said. "Over the years he's had nine or 10 casts, two or three external steel fixators - a metal frame that goes through the leg - for three or four months at a time. 

"They straightened the bone that was bending. When they straightened it, they put a graphite rod from the knee to the ankle to strengthen it. 

"He's 90% there now. He's back cycling and running around. It's brilliant. Once we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I wanted to do something to give back."

Barry is now running more than 600km from Donegal to Cork to raise money for a new children's ward at the hospital. 

He has already raised almost €50,000 of his €75,000 target which will help purchase critical equipment needed for ‘Cappagh Kids’ the new Department of Paediatric Orthopaedics at the National Orthopaedic Hospital

"There are fantastic people working there with incredible skills but there is no child-friendly area. There's not even a colourful painted wall," Barry said. "Mostly older people go there and children are in the same place as the adults.

"There are kids without limbs and with scoliosis, they could be at that hospital up to the age of 18 and beyond. 

"But there's been no area for children or for parents. If you want to stay with your child you sleep in the chair or you sleep on the ground."

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