By Alistair Mason, PA
A family raising money for their seriously ill daughter have received a boost after mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor donated to their cause.
Catherine O’Leary, 43, has locked-in syndrome and is looked after by her parents, Pat and Margaret O’Leary, at their house in Carrigaline, Co Cork.
Her family are currently fundraising for a new vital signs monitor to assist in her ongoing care.
And they surpassed their target thanks to a donation of €5,000 from UFC fighter McGregor.
Mr O’Leary, 68, told the PA news agency: “We were absolutely over the moon when we heard that he was donating.
“My son, who set up this GoFundMe, he rang me, he said, ‘Oh my gosh, did you see the fundraising?'”
It is the second time in a year that McGregor has helped the O’Leary family in their care for Catherine.
“Last year, when all this Covid-19 thing started, we found it very hard to get gloves and masks,” Mr O’Leary said.
“We put something out there for people to help us and Conor McGregor’s manager actually drove all the way from Dublin with gloves and masks and sanitiser.
“That was all done through Conor McGregor.”
Mother-of-one Catherine’s health problems began around 13 years ago when she had a brain tumour, which was originally misdiagnosed by doctors.
She suffered two strokes during the operation to remove the growth in February 2008 and after subsequent complications was left unable to speak, move or even swallow.
After years of being cared for in hospitals and nursing homes, her family brought her back to their home six years ago, where they look after her in a specially built extension with the help of nurses.
Mr O’Leary said: “They only gave her a life expectancy of 10 years – she’s outlived that by three years.
“Every year is a bonus to us.”
The new monitor will replace the one the family is currently using, which they described as “obsolete”.
“It’s damaging her fingers because she has a probe that’s going on to her finger,” Mr O’Leary said.
“We have to move it round every 20 minutes.”
The family hope McGregor will be able to visit at some point in the future to see what his money has been able to achieve, but if not they will send him photographs of the new monitor.
Mr O’Leary said: “(I want to) thank him so much and just to let him know that his donation will keep Catherine in good health because the monitor is essential for us, because even though Catherine can’t tell us if she’s in pain, the machine can tell us.
“It’s fantastic that we’re able to get the machine.”
Having surpassed the €2,000 needed to buy the new machine, any further funds raised will be used for its upkeep and on Catherine’s ongoing care.