The family of a little boy who has gone to America for lifesaving medical treatment have thanked the people of South Tipperary for helping them to get there.
Seven year old Alexander Novakovic lives in Buckinghamshire in England, with his family, but with a granny from Clonmel and many cousins living there, fundraising has been taking place in Ireland to raise the Â£250,000 sterling needed to pay for his lifesaving treatment.
Alexander, whose granny is Martina Pollard from Clonmel, was hit with a devastating and aggressive brain tumour last November. Within a week of symptoms striking him his parents were told the shocking news that it was a stage four tumour, a medulloblastoma, a type of malignant brain tumour and a life-limiting condition. It had also travelled to his spine and the outlook was bleak.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy began straight away and surgery was planned. On December 10, as he prepared for surgery, severe headaches struck and doctors told his parents that the tumour had rapidly progressed since the initial diagnosis. Alexander was given only days to live.
According to his fundraising website, to save Alexanderâ€™s life his neurosurgeon removed as much of the tumour as possible, but due to its position they were warned it could leave him with severe complications and disability. Remarkably Alexander recovered from that operation with minimum fallout.
He undertook high dose chemotherapy from December to March, to which Alexander responded well, but this treatment was also harming the good brain cells and his doctors suggested â€˜proton treatmentâ€™ - this is much kinder and less harmful to the body, especially that of a young child, and doesnâ€™t damage other organs, compared to radiotherapy. It also has an 86% success rate and doctors are positive because of his youth that this will work on Alexander.
The only facility that would accept Alexander was Massachusetts Hospital, in the USA, and Â£250,000 needed to be raised before he travelled there.
The outpouring of generosity was overwhelming and, to date, over Â£379,000 has been donated via Just Giving, an online fundraising website set up by Alexanderâ€™s uncle Daniel Oâ€™Brien. You can still donate on the website under â€˜Alexanderâ€™s Fund.â€™ You can also support him on Facebook at â€˜Alexanderâ€™s Fundraising Page.â€™
On April 30 Alexander travelled to Boston with his mum Jasmin. He has started treatment and is doing well. His dad, Radovan, and three sisters Kristina (14), Victoria (12) and four year old Elizabeth are at home in England but are hoping to travel to Boston soon.
The proton treatment will take six weeks so ongoing fundraising will be needed to keep the family in Boston with Alexander. Any money raised beyond what is needed will be donated to the Kids nâ€™ Cancer charity.
Gretta Fogarty, from Cahir, is a cousin of Jasmin and organised a fundraising 70s disco and barbecue in Carrollâ€™s The Hill Inn, in Cahir, on the Bank Holiday weekend. â€œEveryone was fantastic, we were delighted with the effort people put in. Everybody is so good, people were amazing,â€ she told The Nationalist this week. E3,100 was raised for the fund.
Gretta wants to thank everyone who helped with the local fundraising: Carrolls The Hill Inn; John McHugh and Tipperary raceway; management and staff of Eirgen, Waterford; management and staff of Sun Life Financial, Waterford; staff at Cahir Bears day care centre; Kennedys Butchers; Serenity Beauty; John Quirke Jewellers; Oâ€™Briens Pharmacy; Dolans Supervalue; management and staff of Bulmers Ireland; Cahir House Hotel; Hogans Toymaster, Clonmel; Peter Marks, Clonmel; Sam McCauleys, Clonmel; Oâ€™Connors Butchers; Lazy Bean; Morrisons Pharmacy; Anna Bauer, Clontarf; and staff at Tankerstown National school.
â€œHopefully next Christmas will be better than last Christmas and Alexander will be opening his Santy presents with every other child,â€ Gretta said.