27 May 2005


Surgery to save Romanian orphan success

A little Romanian orphan, who underwent a lifesaving operation in Belfast last week took her first steps outside as she was discharged with a clean bill of health by heart doctors.
The journey to help three-year-old Laura Bodi began over a year ago when charity workers, including St Malachy’s teacher Francie Toner found the little girl in a Romanian hospital in January 2004.
The tiny girl who, up until recently, was the same size as a six-month-old baby, suffers from a rare heart condition called ventricular septal defect.
She had been living in hospital all her young life and was severely malnourished and had anaemia. Romanian doctors told the charity workers if she didn’t get the life saving operation she would not be alive this time next year.
But after massive efforts to raise the £30,000 needed for a critical heart operation, and a success story in obtaining a temporary visa for the little Romanian orphan, Laura was allowed to fly to Belfast at the end of April.
She stayed with a family in Downpatrick and travelled to the Royal Victoria Hospital for her operation last week. She left the hospital on Wednesday after a successful heart surgery with Romanian nurse Maria Kallai.
Laura’s story touched the lives of hundreds of people and her plight galvanised charities, schools and businesses who organised projects in order to raise money.
St Malachy’s IT teacher Francie Toner said he was amazed by the public’s generosity.
“Everyone has been so great and we can’t thank them enough. St Malachy’s raised a lot of money by itself and that’s because the students are fantastic. Everyday they’re asking how Laura is, and how the fundraising is going. We go to Romania every year in the school and this year the fifth years are already looking forward to going in January 2006 and hoping to help another little boy or girl who needs our help.”
Laura’s transformations since her arrival in Ireland has been remarkable Francie added.
“When we saw her in January, Laura couldn’t sit up in her cot, but now she has made so much progress. It’s amazing to see in the four weeks she has been here she has learned to crawl and move. It’s all down to her diet and one to one attention, which has made all the difference.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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