Joe Biden references Irish man’s daughter in state of the union address as inspirational story about cancer

US president says Ava Barron (3) is now in remission after being given just a 8% chance of survival

An Irishman’s three-year-old daughter who has successfully undergone cancer treatment has been mentioned by US president Joe Biden in his state of the union address.

Ava Barron was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer when she was a year old at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and given an 8 per cent chance of survival.

Ava is the daughter of Maurice Barron who is originally from Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford. He is the son of Labour Party councillor and former Mayor of Waterford Cllr Ger Barron.

Mr Barron has been living in the US since 2005. He and his wife Kandice, whose parents are from Panama, were married in 2013 in the same church as President Biden and his wife Jill.


The president has made his Cancer Moonshot initiative a key part of his administration having lost his own son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015. His Moonshot programme aims to cut cancer death rates in half in the next 25 years.

Mr Barron and his wife were guests of the president at his annual state of the union address in Congress.

Mr Barron wrote to the president about the ordeal that his daughter has gone through with cancer treatment.

She had 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemotherapy and a kidney removed.

The president said: “He wrote how in the darkest moments he thought, ‘If she goes, I can’t stay.’ Many of you have been through that as well. Jill and I understand that, like so many of you.

“And he read Jill’s book describing our family’s cancer journey and how we tried to steal moments of joy where we could with Beau.

“For them, that glimmer of joy was the half-smile of their baby girl. It meant everything to them. They never gave up hope. Little Ava never gave up hope. She turns four next month.

“They just found out Ava is beating the odds is on her way to being cured of cancer, and she’s watching from the White House tonight if she’s not asleep already.”

“For the lives we can save — for the lives we can save and the lives we’ve lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can still do big things.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times