The life of a Co Galway university graduate will be transformed within the next few months when she receives Bebionic prosthetic arms.
Katie O’Halloran from Cill Chiaráin village in Connemara was born with Femur Fibula Ulna Syndrome, a very rare congenital condition which left her without arms and with a short, right leg.
The 22-year-old has dreamed of getting these prosthetic arms - the procedure will cost about €300,000 - and would help her do some of the simple things that most of us take for granted. She will be the first woman in Europe to use them. A company in the west of Ireland will provide the prostheses and the procedure will be carried out in Galway.
Designed in the UK and launched in Germany in 2010, they enable amputees or people born without arms to perform everyday activities, such as eating, drinking, typing, opening a door or picking up small objects.
She has always striven to overcome her disability and recently completed a masters degree in public law at NUI Galway.
Her family and friends set up a fundraising organisation called Coiste Katie Born to Run last year to finance the cost of the prosthetic procedure.
A conversation between Katie and city publican John Mannion, the owner of the Dail Bar in Middle Street, resulted in he and local pubs, The Front Door, Tom Sheridan’s, The Brasserie on the Corner, Blake’s Bar, and the Dail Bar, coming on board. They launched the Katie’s League of Champions’ Draw in January offering a prize of two tickets for this year’s Champions League Final at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon on Saturday May 24. This will be the first European Cup final staged at the stadium since 1967. The prize will include flights, two nights luxurious accommodation at a 5 star hotel, and €1,000 spending money. Tickets cost €5 and are available from each of the pubs until the night of the draw which takes place in the Dáíl Bar tonight (Thursday ) at 7pm. The proceeds go directly to the “Katie Born to Run” campaign.
Siobhán Costello, the marketing manager of the Dáil Bar, says there has been a “tremendous” response to the fundraiser. “The prize was put up by the businesses and people are buying books of tickets. The bar staff have really driven it. There are two aspects to it, those who are interested in Katie and her story, and then there are the soccer fans. The interest is massive across the board. Greg, the bar manager of The Front Door, organised a stationery cycle outside Sonny’s Bar and the turnout was brilliant. There was a charity soccer match and a coffee morning held also. A substantial amount of money has been collected - we are nearly at the the final figure now - and it will be presented to Katie next week. It’s been a lovely project. We are delighted to be involved. The entire city has got behind it.”
She says the Bebionic prosthetic arms will give Katie O’Halloran independence and control in everyday life.
“Within months she will start the process. The arms have fully fuctional digits which means she will be able to open a door, cook and do everything for herself. She will be the first woman in Europe to be pioneering these arms. She is very motivated. She has a masters in public law and wants to represent Ireland in the UN.”
Donations can be made on iDonate with further information available on www.katieborntorun.org or people can buy tickets from participating bars.