A Ukrainian woman living in Cork has made an urgent plea for help for her teenage son, whose life is in danger.

Irina Antonyuk’s 17-year-old son Nikita is suffering from a very rare type of brain tumour, which is growing and putting pressure on his eyes, nose and ears.

The family were told he could undergo brain surgery in January this year, but this was delayed due to the pandemic and they haven’t been given a new date.

Irina told RSVP Live: “We are losing hope. Every day is a battle and I am so scared I am going to lose my son.

“There has been no communication from the hospital and I just feel they don’t even care.”



Nikita

The tumour, which is called Juvenile Angiofibroma (JNA) and usually affects teenage boys, has already had a severe impact on Nikita’s quality of life.

“Nikita can’t sleep because of the pressure in his nose, which he says feels like a ‘stone wanting to come out’,” Irina continued.

“He also can’t see properly, and his ears are constantly blocked and ringing.

“He has not smelled anything through his nose since April last year. He has lost a lot of weight and he is very depressed.”

Her son, who was an excellent student, has also had to miss school because of his condition.

“He was getting awards every year from school before this, he was such a good student.

“He loves maths and computers and dreams of becoming a computer software engineer.

“Now he can barely do any school work because of his health.”

Irina, who has lived in Ireland since 2004, said she is “shocked” by the lack of communication about her son’s surgery.

“Since the tumour is very vascular, there is an extreme risk of surgical blood loss which is why it’s very challenging to remove and requires a lot of expertise from multiple surgeons,” she explained.

“We were referred to a professor in Dublin in November, and he said we would have the surgery in January.

“Unfortunately, the professor has still not organised his team and has not given us any news and this forced us to wait for many months with no surgery date in sight.”

She added: “I must have called the hospital 100 times. It’s so hard to get through, or to get any information. We weren’t even told the surgery wasn’t happening in January.

“The staff in the hospital say they will call me back and they don’t. Nobody will speak to me.”

After months of worry and frustration, Irina has had to take matters into her own hands in a desperate effort to save her son.

She found hospitals in Germany that have surgeons experienced in JNA operations, who should be able to help Nikita.

“The cost of the surgery and all other medical expenses associated is €50,000 – it’s a lot of money, which we don’t have,” she said.

“We will need to stay there for eight days as Nikita will need to do an embolization of the tumour before the surgery and possibly hormonal therapy.

“We need to have this surgery urgently because the tumour is getting more and more aggressive and we don’t know how much longer we can wait.”

Irina has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of the surgery, which you can donate to here.



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