Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Brave Seanin back on home soil after U.S surgeries

Brave Belleek girl Séanín Smith received a huge welcome home on Saturday night having returned from almost three months in America where she underwent three lifesaving operations in her battle against the effects of the debilitating condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS).  The rare and progressive disease affects the skin, joints and muscles causing frequent strokes and seizures as well as affecting vital organs. The medical interventions in the USA were Seanin’s only hope of leading any semblance of a normal life and, having been deemed by doctors to be too unwell to fly, Séanín made the gruelling journey to America in June via boat, arriving in Maryland at the beginning of July.

Family and friends were delighted to welcome the 24 year old back home on Saturday night after eight long and rough days at sea en route from New York, followed by an eight hour road journey from Southampton to Liverpool and the last leg of the journey, an eight hour sailing to Belfast.

Having undergone vital Craniospinal and Tethered Cord Release surgeries Séanín’s fighting spirit continued to shine throughout her difficult recovery and her devoted family hope that being back in her native hometown surrounded by everyone who has taken her plight into their hearts will help her enormously in her continued recovery.

Seanin’s journey has been long and extremely tough as she fights the sometimes daily medical setbacks she faces as a result of her rare condition.  Her fragile health has endured many setbacks in the last few years and she has been hospitalised countless times. She has had to learn to walk again and fought back from a stroke in 2014.

Throughout it all, she has maintained her sunny smile and positive outlook and, with the help of her family, has been committed to raising the profile of EDS and other rare conditions so that help and treatment may be sought for sufferers worldwide. Her bravery in overcoming such adversity  earned her a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award in 2014 and the inspirational student was named University of Ulster Student of the Year in 2015.

Having developed cranial instability last summer Seanin found it extremely difficult to hold her head up and required a neck brace for support.  She also began to lose the power in her hands and arms and fusion stabilisation surgery became her only option. The vital surgery could only be carried out in the US so her family and friends ramped up their fundraising campaign to raise the funds needed to pay for the necessary surgeries.

A host of hugely successful events have taken place over the last year, raising thousands for Seanin’s medical treatment and, with the brave young woman having undergone the interventions she needs for now, the last of these fundraisers takes place this Friday night.

A special Variety Concert will take place in Newry Town Hall featuring a wonderful display of local young talent, with the fabulous folk band, Raglan, opening up the show and Stephen Mc Nulty as compere.

The audience will be treated to the All-Ireland winning performances of Aine Malone from Whitecross with the O’Malley Rooney School of Irish Dancing, Crossmaglen girls Alannah and Shaunna Murray from the Mona Ruddy School of Irish Dancing, Belleeks’ Claire O’Callaghan and the Mc Enteggart Irish Dance Troupe as well as All-Ireland Junior Scor winners – the Cullyhanna Novelty Act.

In addition, two brilliant solo singers – Cailiosa Ni Dhuill from Whitecross and Stephen Murphy from Forkhill will be performing along with the sensational TK Mascots and the wonderful Newry Stage School featuring Kayleen Farrell and Conor McCabe from Belleek.

Finally, the fantastic “Fight On Kids” – a newly formed group of children from Belleek, Whitecross, Dorsey, Newtownhamilton and Cullyhanna – are set to put on a terrific performance under the guidance of the talented Tracey Kelly from Belleek.

The group comprises of several of Seanin’s young cousins, who wanted to do something for their beloved cousin.

Everyone is encouraged to come along and show their support for this fantastic line-up which marks the last event in the Fight On Campaign. Admission is strictly ticket only.  Tickets cost £10 each and are available from Tully’s Vivo Shop Belleek, Clarke’s Chemist Newtown, Newry Town Hall and any committee member or via The Fight On Campaign Facebook page. Curtain up for the Variety Concert is 7pm sharp.

With Seanin now surrounded by the love and comfort of her family and friends, well wishers continue to keep her in their thoughts and prayers and all of south Armagh wishes her a speedy recovery and a healthy comeback from the effects of the rare and devastating condition she has so bravely endured over the last few years.