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Toddler returns to Ireland after life-saving treatment in Boston

Ellie Madden spent five months in Boston receiving life-saving treatment for an oesophageal condition.

Ellie Madden and her parents after the toddler spent five months in Boston.
Ellie Madden and her parents after the toddler spent five months in Boston.
Image: Conor Healy Photography

A YOUNG IRISH GIRL who travelled to Boston for life-saving treatment of a rare medical condition which left her unable to eat, speak or swallow has returned to Ireland.

Eighteen-month-old Ellie Madden spent 38 days in an induced coma while growing a new oesophagus and underwent several significant operations in the US.

Her family says Ellie, who has a twin sister,  had been attached to breathing and feeding machines from birth due to the condition (tracheo-oesophageal fistula with long gap oesophageal atresia). The oesophageal gap meant that the child could not feed and could not make any sounds.

The family travelled to Boston five months ago so that Ellie could undergo treatment at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last night, the government jet brought Ellie home to Ireland and she is recovering at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. Her family says that she has “passed the first big hurdle of a long journey” and they are pleased with her progress.

“For the first time in her life she can breathe on her own, swallow on her own, we can hear her – she can use her voice, which is amazing,” her mother Esti Madden told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Madden said that her daughter was tired after the journey but that the family is glad to be back in Ireland:

She needs time to recover and she needs to go home and have some peaceful time with her family. Obviously with flying and all the stress of the ambulance, you can see that she’s really tired and needs some time. But she’s done well and we’re here and that’s the most important part.

She said that the 38-day coma “was the longest time ever” and that the family missed her terribly over Christmas, but “if you see her now, she’s like any other child”.

Ellie’s medical costs are being paid for by the VHI and HSE, but the family has been fundraising to cover the cost of the Boston trip and their daughter’s aftercare in Ireland. Ellie’s parents are posting blog updates on her progress online.

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