The father of Saoibh Lonergan – the little girl who stole the show on Friday night’s Late Late Toy Show – has paid tribute to a hero doctor who helped the family when they struggled to cover their medical expenses.
Enny Lonergan, a personal trainer from Tramore, Co Waterford, said that Sunday independent that Saoibh was in chronic pain and the family was struggling during the recession – when the kindhearted doctor stepped in.
This weekend her father said the ordeal began when Saoibh, 10, was just two and a half years old and began to “twist” in pain.
“The doctors kept telling us it was a muscle problem and gave her Nurofen to treat it. But she kept having sleepless nights, the pain was so bad. She would rate it 10 out of 10.”
Initially, Saoibh was misdiagnosed with scoliosis.
“We were in and out of the hospital, visiting doctors, and we didn’t know what to do,” Kenny said.
In search of answers, the family finally took Saoibh to an osteopath who was able to give her temporary pain relief.
“I was in college at the time, studying health and fitness. We were very short on money and Ireland was just emerging from recession,” said Kenny.
“One day I was rushing to take Saoibh to the appointment and the doctor asked where I was from. I told him I was in college. He asked me how I could afford the weekly visits, and I said, ‘To be honest, we’re taking it off our mortgage.’
“It didn’t matter to us at the time. We just didn’t want to see our child suffer. He said, ‘Look, I have kids of my own too, and that’s awful.'”
The doctor directed him to a charity box at his practice at Temple Street Hospital – and asked him to contribute only what he could afford each week.
This weekend, Mr Lonergan said: “You can’t describe the feeling when you’re at your most difficult time and someone shows you such generosity. Half an hour with him and Saoibh could get up and leave his room and then he would see her every Friday for months – for nothing.”
In June this year, seven years after she first showed symptoms, Saoibh was correctly diagnosed at University Hospital Waterford.
“A surgeon told us that there is a benign tumor in Saoibh’s spinal canal that is causing the pain. She had to have 10 hours of surgery to have it removed.”
Saoibh underwent the operation at Temple Street Hospital, which Mr Lonergan says was accidental.
“We had put money into the Temple Street charity fund – and little did we know they were going to do the surgery eventually. There was something nice about that.”
Describing Saoibh’s road to recovery, Kenny said: “She is a credit to herself. Don’t get me wrong, she’s frustrated — and she doesn’t like people looking at her when she’s wearing the braces — but she always laughs. She has an incredible impact on everyone she meets.”
The girl from Waterford is reading them show toys with her contagious personality and smile on Friday night before performing a song she wrote while recovering in hospital.
She was also joined on set by friends Jack and Ellie Mai, who all met in hospital – before presenting Ryan Tubridy, she announced all three friends would be traveling to Euro Disney on Aer Lingus.
In the meantime, viewers have donated 3.5 million euros for this year’s appeal for donations. Host Ryan Tubridy launched the 2022 fundraiser during the show toyswhich featured Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher and the Ireland Women’s World Cup squad.
Viewers witnessed an emotional moment as eight-year-old Liverpool FC fan Cealan Green was stunned by the performance of his favorite goalkeeper. A blindfolded Cealan put a ball into the net before the big revelation came – that he had just scored against Corkman and Liverpool star Kelleher.
Last year the show toys The appeal raised €6.8 million for The Community Foundation for Ireland, which supported over 160 children’s charities and helped an estimated 1.1 million children and family members in Ireland.
Revolut has also partnered with RTÉ for a second year, allowing users to donate instantly through the Revolut app.
Last year the app crashed due to an unprecedented number of users. Revolut co-founder Vlad Yatsenko said steps were taken to avoid a similar event this year.
tea Late Late Toy Show was first broadcast in 1974 and over the years has become a traditional part of RTÉ’s Christmas programming
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