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Campaign launched to fund lifesaving surgery of 18 month old Ennis girl

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An eighteen month old Ennis girl is in need of lifesaving surgery prompting the start of an online fundraising campaign.

Sarah Summerly was born in June 2019 with OEIS complex, a rare combination of serious birth defects resulting in her liver, intestines and bladder developing outside her body.

To complicate matters, she also has a severe form of Spina Bifida and clubbed feet. Despite the odds being stacked against her and by fighting hard Sarah survived but is unable to walk and requires continuous intense care.

Sarah lives in Ennis with her mother Michelle, her father Ger, and siblings Tony (9) and Rosemary (4). Michelle provides full time care to Michelle as Ger works outside the home.

Friends of the Summerly family have rallied together to raise funds for her lifesaving surgery. Over €17,000 was raised in the first 24 hours as the public backed the cause to help Sarah.

To improve her quality of life and offer more physical and social independence, Sarah will have to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries at different stages throughout her life. As the surgical repair is so challenging it requires teams of doctors with specialised international expertise.

Michelle, Ger and Sarah will have to travel to the United Kingdom for two major surgeries this year. The first of these operations is in February and will take place in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where they will break open Sarah’s pelvis, place her liver, bladder and intestines inside her body and then complete whatever additional reconstructive surgery they can. The surgery will take up to fifteen hours and will result in hospital admission and intensive care for eight to ten weeks.

A second surgery is planned for later in the year in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. This surgery will address the damage to Sarah’s spine. This surgery presents significant risk, but it will give Sarah the best chance at sitting unaided and developing and growing.

Along with the financial strain surrounding the UK surgeries, there are other matters that need attention that involve outlay for the Summerly family. Sarah will be a lifetime wheelchair user and it is planned to provide her with a suitable wheelchair towards the end of 2021. The family home in Ennis will need to be adapted to make it wheelchair accessible including the construction of a room suitable to Sarah’s specific needs.

Padraigh Sutton is among the individuals who set up the GoFundMe link. He outlined, “The Summerly family has been through so much and one needs to know them to experience the love they have and the lengths they go to each day to support all three of their children. Sarah is an amazing child that has overcome so much in a short time. She has fought to beat the odds and has survived”.

“Family, friends, colleagues and the wider community want to show the Summerly family that we have their backs. The challenges they face are immense and reducing the financial worries will make it easier for them to focus on the needs of their three children but in particular the amazing Sarah. Tony and Rosemary have been a great big brother and sister to Sarah and have been so good with helping mammy and daddy when they can. Raising this money will make such a positive difference to a family that has been through so much and will make future steps on this journey easier,” Sutton added.


Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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