Parents fear Caleb will never walk if treatment is delayed

Caleb O'Loughlin

BABIES cry. There’s nothing unusual or concerning about that.

But 16-month-old Caleb O’Loughlin from Athea can do little else but cry to signal his pain and distress.

He cannot hold himself to stand up unaided and cannot sit without pain in his buggy. He cries when he is put down on his back to sleep, has only recently managed to crawl.

He has been assessed as having the comprehension and language powers of a five-month-old.

Little Caleb also needs a dairy free diet to prevent him from being creased with abdominal pain, and has to have laxatives three times a day and enemas to enable him to go to the toilet.

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A brain scan has shown abnormalities in his white matter.

Now his parents fear that if intervention for Caleb is further delayed, he may never walk.

Despite a plethora of issues, the main thing  Caleb needs now is a diagnosis to explain why his spine appears to be twisted, with consultants fearing he has one of a number of serious conditions .

Doctors believe he has scoliosis, but need to know if there are other conditions which could affect how he can be treated such as cerebral palsy or tethered spine syndrome.

For a child his age, that scan cannot be done without his being sedated and there is a waiting list for the procedure in Temple Street Hospital in Dublin.

His mother Donna explained to the Limerick Post that despite the fact that she and her husband Joseph are currently not working outside the home as their chief duties are as carers they would find the money for Caleb to have the procedure done privately.

However this is not allowed because the scan can only be carried out by specialists and only so many can be accommodated at the hospital.

Both his parents have been pleading with the hospital to give them a date for the scan so they will know when other interventions for Caleb might be possible.

“We were told to go home and enjoy Christmas and we would see in the New Year but we have no date for this. At one stage, we were told by a clinic receptionist that there’s a long list and Caleb isn’t even on it yet.”

The parents have been told that, due to Caleb’s spine curvature, he will be facing spinal surgery, body casts and rod implants every six months until he is about seven years of age.

“That is what we are looking at and we’re dreading it. He’s a beautiful baby and we can’t even explain to him why he will have to suffer all this. But before that we need a diagnosis and for that we need this scan. but we have no idea when he will get that help.”

Because Caleb’s special diet is costing the family more than €70 a week and as they have spent all their savings on what medical care can be paid for privately for Caleb,  friends have set up a Go Fund Me page called ‘Caleb’s Journey’ to try to help pay for his needs.