‘We didn’t know what to expect when TJ was born’
TJ’s best chance would be an operation abroad, says her parents

‘We didn’t know what to expect when TJ was born’

THE parents of a young girl with spina bifida have set up a fundraiser in a bid to enable their daughter to receive medical treatment abroad to give her “the best chance” of being able to walk.

Spina bifida is the result of incomplete spinal development in the womb, and the condition can cause incontinence, mobility issues, pressure sores and social challenges in those affected.

Tina Joan ‘TJ’ McDaid Needham, whose first birthday is next month, currently receives physiotherapy on a fortnightly basis, but her condition means she will likely end up needing to use a wheelchair.

Her parents, Jay Needham, from Knockmore in Tallaght, and Claire McDaid, said their little girl exceeded expectations from the moment she was born.

When Ms McDaid was pregnant with TJ, she attended a 30-week scan where she said she was told by doctors that they could not see a spine, and that her child would be seriously ill and likely wouldn’t survive for more than a few hours after being born.

According to Mr Needham, the couple were advised to consider a termination, however they decided to carry the pregnancy to term and TJ was born on October 7, 2020.

“TJ was born with spina bifida,” Mr Needham, who is also TJ’s full-time carer, explained, “but she’s perfect. She’s absolutely perfect.

“We didn’t know what to expect when she was born. Claire was told not to buy any baby clothes. We’d been told that babies like TJ only survive for an hour or two after birth.

“But when she was born, she adapted really well to being out of the womb. She’s incredible. She’s such a fighter.”

TJ’s condition has affected her mobility, as she has a loss of sensation and movement in her lower body, and has delayed gross motor development, but her father describes her as a determined little girl.

“She’s so determined, you can see it in her face when she’s doing things,” said Mr Needham.

“We know that she’s going to struggle with trying to walk, but she’s just so happy that you wouldn’t even know she’s struggling.

“We were told that she’d be paralysed from the waist down, but now she can put her foot in her mouth. She’s brilliant.”

TJ’s parents are hoping to secure treatment for their daughter, in either Boston or Hungary, to straighten her feet in order to help her to walk, and to purchase specialist equipment to help her to achieve this.

“She just gets physio once every two weeks and check-ups in Temple Street at the moment,” added Mr Needham.

“We’re hoping to raise enough money to go to Boston or Hungary, because the care over there for people with spina bifida is supposed to be brilliant.

“We want her to get an operation that will straighten her feet and give her the best chance to be able to walk, but over here we’ve just been told she’ll need a wheelchair.

“It’s going to give her the best chance of being able to walk, which she won’t get here, unfortunately.”

To donate to the Life-Saving Treatment for TJ fund on GoFundMe, visit www.tinyurl.com/TJFund.

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