LOCK DOWN: Alexis O’Mahony with her parents Steven and Teresa at her third birthday party in The Dromhall Hotel last April. Photo: Eamonn Keogh

By Sean Moriarty

The parents of a three-year-old girl – who suffers from a rare condition and needs 24-hour care – are preparing to lock themselves into their Woodlawn home for at least four months to prevent their high risk daughter getting ill.

Steve and Teresa O’Mahony’s daughter Alexis suffers from Pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency, a condition that affects her ability to breakdown food to fuel her body, which results in side effects that include Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy.

The current highly contagious COVID-19 crisis means she is one of the most vulnerable people in society.

On St Patrick’s night Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that the current crisis was just the calm before the storm with a surge in Coronavirus cases imminent, and that elderly and chronically ill people should be “cocooned” over the coming months.

Teresa is her official carer, but the family relies on help from the HSE and from charities like the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation.

Her parents cannot risk picking up the virus either and have already taken steps to limit contact with the outside world, including cancelling their HSE nurse and their Jack and Jill carer who would usually help a few days a week to give Teresa a break.
As the situation escalates they will have to rely on emergency services like the Red Cross to deliver food to their home as he and his wife will not be able to leave.

Steven said he will take every precaution necessary to protect his daughter, but even if the current crisis is brought under control in the short-term, he is preparing for a much longer isolation period.

“We have to take these measures,” Steven, a pub DJ who is now unemployed, told the Killarney Advertiser.
“There is no point in keeping Alexis in isolation if one of us picks up something. I am not scared. Fear affects the immune system, and after all that we have been through over the last four years, I have learned it is pointless being fearful, it serves no purpose. We have a fine back garden when the weather gets better and I will occupy my mind by writing more music, something I did not have the time to do recently.”

Steven said that the Irish Government and the health and emergency services were doing a great job despite all that has been thrown at them over the last few days.

“This is going to affect every individual in some way, employment, business, mental health, everyone is going to feel this,” he added. “This country is doing really well. Everyone is in this together and we need to show leadership. This is no time for emotions, emotions cloud judgement.”