€78k raised to send Aaliyah to the states to prolong her life
Aaliyah with parents Lauren and Karl

€78k raised to send Aaliyah to the states to prolong her life

A FUNDRAISER for a six-year-old girl who was diagnosed with a rare and deadly brain tumour has raised over €78,000 to help get her a place on a trial in the states to prolong her life.

Aaliyah McCormick is a happy, kind and bubbly six-year-old girl whose smile is infectious. Now, Aaliyah is showing her resilience and strength as she battles a rare high-grade brain tumour, known as Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), which fewer than 10% of children survive two years from diagnosis.

Aaliyah was diagnosed with DIPG on July 17 this year, when her parents took her to Temple Street Children’s Hospital after she was suffering from a range of symptoms such as balance problems, nausea and vomiting.

“Aaliyah has always been a very energetic child and we are a very active family,” Aaliyah’s mother, Lauren McCormick, told The Echo.

“She has never had any health issues but one week before she was diagnosed, I was going to work, and she was going to GAA and she got sick randomly and I just thought it was a tummy bug.”

Following this, Aaliyah began showing signs that were concerning such as being off balance and bloodshot eyes, with one of them blinking slowly. With it being mid-July and hot temperatures, Lauren put Aaliyah’s symptoms down to heat and tiredness.

“It was a Friday and my mam was minding her, her cousins were up and they were having a water fight out the back,” said Lauren. “My mam rang me and said that she was very quiet and that there was something not right.”

Aaliyah McCormick

Lauren decided to bring Aaliyah to the GP to get her checked after she had vomited repeatedly the following morning. After explaining her symptoms, the doctor said that Aaliyah could have conjunctivitis and told her not to worry that she would be better in a few days.

Later in the day, things took a turn for the worst as Aaliyah’s condition deteriorated – prompting Lauren and her partner Karl, who is from Ballyfermot, to bring her straight to Temple Street.

“July 17 is imprinted in my mind,” said Lauren. “I just had a feeling – something came over me and I just knew something was wrong.

“Aaliyah had a high heart rate and was unsteady on her feet, nurses were running in and out and it was all go. Looking back now, me telling the doctors her symptoms was like doing a sum – everything equalled to the tumour.”

After her daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Lauren and her partner Karl said they “couldn’t believe” the diagnosis.

“It is just the worst news possible you could ever receive,” she said. “I just ran out of the hospital, I couldn’t even take in what he was saying. I couldn’t even tell you what I did in that moment – I just remember screaming and I couldn’t believe what was going on.”

Lauren and Karl were told the difficult news that the tumour was inoperable because of its location and that radiation and chemotherapy were the only options to keep the tumour at bay, but with it being an aggressive cancer chances are it can grow back rapidly, and treatment may not work at all.

After researching extensively for options and speaking to other parent’s whose children received a similar diagnosis, Lauren found a trial available in America called ‘ONC201’.

The GoFundMe page created is to raise money for Aaliyah’s journey and medical expenses if she is accepted on to the trial and has raised an incredible €76,821 – with a generous donation of €30,000 from Conor Mc Gregor.

“Since putting up the GoFundMe, it is kind of like we are reliving it – it is hard to explain,” said Lauren.

“It is amazing – within an hour of setting it up it had already reached €10,000.

“We set up the page so that we are ready to go if it does happen. It is such an unpredictable tumour, anything could happen at any stage, so I didn’t want to be left panicking if something came up and we needed to get to America next week or tomorrow- we are set up to go now.

“When the day comes and she gets accepted onto the trial we can get her over there, I am thinking positively that it will all work out.”

If you would like to find out more about Aaliyah’s journey or to donate, you can go to ‘Help Our Aaliyah Fight Brain Cancer!’ on GoFundMe..