Sligo girl to continue US medical treatment

 

A two year old Sligo girl who is receiving treatment in the United States for cerebral palsy will not be deported back to Ireland, a US consul in Ireland said yesterday.

Mr Steven Wangsness, a first secretary and consul at the Dublin embassy, said that a way would be found to allow Michelle Brannigan and her mother, Ms Brenda Curran, to remain in New Jersey despite their three month tourist visa having expired on June 5th. The child had been at the centre of a controversy after US immigration authorities refused her mother's application for a visa extension.

"It's really a technical problem more than anything else," Mr Wangsness said. "Some administrative remedy will be found."

"I'm just delighted," Ms Curran said from her sister's home in New Jersey when The Irish Times conveyed the US consul's comments. The family's difficulties emerged because Michelle's treatment in the US lasted longer than initially expected.

Ms Curran and Michelle's father, Mr Dermot Brannigan, had been concerned that no doctor in the State would be able to monitor the effects of a new cerebral palsy drug. Michelle recently received injections of Botox, a drug which has been successful in the United States in developing muscle tone and thus aiding physiotherapy for cerebral palsy patients. Patients in Belfast have received the drug, but it is not yet in use in the Republic.

The Botox injections are the latest element in a course of treatment at Mountainside Hospital that has resulted in Michelle "getting better by the day", her parents said yesterday.

The doctor carrying out the treatment has been seeing her twice weekly since her arrival in the US in March, and he wants her to remain under his care until November, they said.