01 April 2005

Belfast Telegraph

Pearce flies out to have life-saving operation
Brave boy going to US thanks to Tele readers.


By Nigel Gould
ngould@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
01 April 2005

A brave little boy who touched hearts across Northern Ireland was today due to fly out for a life-saving operation at the hands of a top US surgeon after generous Belfast Telegraph readers raised thousands of pounds to send him.

Pearce Gilmore (9), from Coleraine, was due to fly from Dublin to New York - one week before a desperately-needed five-hour brain operation.

And as Pearce put the final touches to his packing, his father Seamus told the Belfast Telegraph that the surgery can not come quickly enough.

"He needs the operation as soon as possible," he said. "I can see him getting more tired these days.

"This operation has come at the right time. We could not have afforded any delay."

More than £40,000 was raised by readers throughout the province to send Pearce to America after an appeal in the Telegraph several weeks ago.

Pearce is suffering from an unusual brain condition and his family say his only hope of survival rests with Dr Rick Abbot, who has agreed to carry out the life-saving operation at the Montifiore Medical Centre in the Bronx.

The youngster, along with his dad and mum, Sophie, will meet Dr Abbot on Monday.

He will then attend a Montifiore clinic on Tuesday morning and will have a series of tests including an MRI scan.

His operation will be carried out next Friday - days before his 10th birthday.

Dr Abbot, a paediatric neurosurgeon, who works and teaches at the Einstein Centre, said as far as he was concerned this was not an "unusual operation".

In a recent interview with the Telegraph he said: "Our practice specialises in this type of tumour operation. We are renowned internationally and carry out about 10 similar operations a year.

"Without the surgery the mass of tumour slowly squeezes the brain tissue.

"Our surgery partially removes the tumour and this will be followed up by radiation treatment.

"The operation will take four to six hours.

"He will be in intensive care for a few days, followed by a further four to six days recovery.

"He will then have five to six weeks of daily radiation treatment, which he can have in Ireland."

When the Telegraph launched the appeal for Pearce, Mr Gilmore said he felt time was running out for his little boy.

He said Pearce's condition was deteriorating fast and he feared the youngster might not live to see his 10th birthday.

The fund for Pearce, meanwhile, stands at £52,000 with donations coming in all the time.

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