Little Rory Gallagher is defying the odds after life-changing surgery in St. Louis, Missouri just six months ago.
Rory's parents Shauna and Gerry were devastated when their baby boy was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at eight months old.
They were told that he wouldn't walk or talk and that he would be in a wheelchair by the age of three.
Rory's mum Shauna was heartbroken to think that her little boy wouldn't be able to talk. She never gave up hope, though, and worked tireless with Rory who does, in fact, talk.
Not willing to give up on her son, she began to research to see if there was anything that could be done to get her little Rory walking,
She found a neurosurgeon by the name of T.S. Park who was performing pioneering surgery on children with the same diagnosis as her little Rory.
She had the neurosurgeon consider Rory for the surgery and was absolutely delighted last November when Rory was deemed to be an ideal candidate for the surgery. At just two years of age, Rory was the youngest child from Ireland to undergo this major surgery.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy is a procedure on the lower spine which severs the nerves sending the incorrect signals, while leaving only the normal rootlets intact.
Spasticity is removed, which allows the patient to increase strength with intensive physiotherapy. In Rory's case, the surgery enabled him to learn to walk.
Last November, after hearing about Rory's situation, Cllr. Barry O'Neill, Chairman of the International Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival, made contact with Shauna and Gerry.
Shauna recalls, “it was the stuff of dreams.
“Our little baby Rory was named after 'Rory Gallagher, the rock and blues legend from Ballyshannon.
“With Bary on board, we began a fundraising campaign to get Rory to the USA.”
Barry organised ''A night for Baby Rory Gallagher'' as the first official fundraiser event. It was held in the Rory Gallagher Theatre in the Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon.
A host of local talent including Johnny Gallagher & the Boxtie Band, the Trutones, the Pat Mc Manus band, along with many more, gave their time and talent on the night. Over €8,000 was raised and Rory Gallagher's Wish to Walk was off to a flying start.
An online appeal was also launched and many local events were held for little Rory.
“We've been completely overjoyed at the response from the people of Donegal and the surrounding areas.” Shauna said. “When little Rory grows up, we'll make sure he understands just how much people actually did for him.”
Rory underwent major surgery in June. Six months later, he took his first steps.
He has physiotherapy seven days a week and is learning to walk with the use of a set of parallel bars.
He can take 12 steps with the aid of a Kaye walker. Without the surgery, this would have been im impossible. Shauna explained.
“Rory's life has been changed for the better. He has no more tightness in his little body. He is more independent, pain free and learning to walk.
“Rory can only build on this fantastic start. I'm very hopeful that he'll be able to walk on stage at next year's Rory Gallagher festival in Ballyshannon, with a little help on the day.”
Rory still has a long way to go but his future is looking very bright.
Shauna and Gerry wish to thank everyone who has supported their son Rory, as it's down to the kindness and generosity of the public that little Rory is at the stage he is now.
Rory needs to return to the USA late next year for more surgeries to allow him to further progress, so the fundraising continues to ensure that he gets to reach full potential.
If you wish to help, please donate on www.rorygallagherswishtowalk.com.
You can also follow Rory's progress on Facebook @ Rory Gallaghers Wish toWwalk or contact Shauna by email at