Lisa and Keeva Walsh“It’s a lifeline we were given, it’s not for everyone.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Keeva Walsh can blame Ryan Tubridy for making her late for school today. The 10-year-old  got time off to chat to Ryan about some life-changing procedures she’s been having over the past year. Her mum Lisa gave an update first on the progress of her daughter’s limb-lengthening surgery. Then Keeva chipped in to talk about what it was like for her. She explained to Ryan why she made the decision to have the invasive procedures.

“So I could get my own cup of water, so I could reach my own car door, when I’m older I can reach an ATM and just do lots of things that other people can do.”

When she was born Keeva Walsh was diagnosed with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. At the age of 7, Keeva had the option of getting surgery that would increase her height over a period of time. She decided against it. Then two years later, Lisa says Keeva changed her mind.

“One day she just came into us and said, ‘Mam and Dad I don’t want to be small anymore and can we go and meet that man again?’ That was it.”

The operations are ongoing and Keeva has gained some height in the past year. Lisa says she burst into tears when she and her husband saw first-hand the difference it has made to Lisa.

“She was able to go over to the cupboard, she was able to open the cupboard, you know, reach it, without us having to, you know the way, stand over her and open that door – she put her hand up. I cried for about the whole day, I think.”

Lisa Walsh says the decision to have Keeva’s operations is one which affects the whole family. She told Ryan she knows it’s not a path taken by everyone.

“It’s a lifeline we were given, it’s not for everyone, Ryan, I know that. It’s not a case of, ‘Oh yeah we’re going to get this done’. It’s a really, really huge decision on a family because it affects everybody.”

She says the world needs to adapt to all of the people living in it, including those with achondroplasia, but Lisa says progress has been slow.

“We just felt the world isn’t catching up with, we’ll say things that are out of reach like ATMs, the standard things like ATMs, bars, restaurants, public toilets, everything. Everything me and you take for granted.”

You can hear more of the medical details about Keeva’s limb-lengthening surgery and how she feels about it all in the full interview here.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2019

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