BUBBLE GIRL'S DELIGHT AS HER WORLD OPENS UP; Carol, 5, beats disease after nine months in isolation.
The courageous five-year-old captured the heart of the nation when she won her fight against the killer bug - Severe Combined Immune Deficiency.
She was forced to live every day inside a plastic bubble, cut off from the outside world after her immune system became defenceless.
But yesterday the brave battler put her ordeal behind her and was on a high after her first day at the Nano Nagle school in Listowel where she was welcomed by teacher Mary Supple and her new classmates.
Her delighted mum Breda from Gortnaskeha, Ballybunion, Co Kerry said: "Carol is like any five-year-old and she loves mixing with children.
"I wasn't really worried about her at all because she's a very determined, outgoing girl and I knew she'd thrive on school life."
Carol was born with a rare and usually fatal condition which left her body completely prone to infection.
She was the first Irish baby diagnosed and treated for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, known as Skid's disease, but now she lives life like any other little girl.
Her proud parents Breda and John chose to speak about Carol's fight against Skid's Disease in a bid to raise awareness of the heartbreaking condition.
Breda said: "Carol was born with a heart defect and she was taken in for routine examination when they discovered she had Skid's disease.
"For nine months she was in an isolation unit in Newcastle General Hospital and she eventually had a T-cell transplant."
Little Carol was put in a sterile cubicle into which specially-filtered germ-free air was pumped.
Staff entering had to scrub-up as if they were surgeons preparing to operate.
Breda stayed with her daughter during treatment and was joined by the rest of the family for a week at Christmas.
Carol bravely suffered all the necessary medical treatment, despite being frightened at times.
Mother-of-four Breda said: "Carol's operation received a lot of attention at the time because she was the first child in Ireland to get the disease and to undergo the operation.
"She was in an isolation unit for nine months, but we were there with her all the time.
"Since then a few children in Ireland have been diagnosed with the disease. Some of them have lived and some them unfortunately have not survived.
"That is why it is important to heighten the awareness of Skid's disease because if it is not detected early enough it can be difficult to treat.
"I know it is a very rare disease, but people need to know about it so they can learn to detect it early."
Carol's visits to hospital are now becoming less frequent.
Bread said: "We still have to go over twice a year for check-ups, but other than that Carol is a happy and healthy."
Carol's doting parents and older brother and sisters Madeleine, 18, PJ, 14, and eight-year-old Leanne, eight, are thrilled with their sister's progress.
Bread said: "She's a lively little girl and she I know she's going to love school."
Family friend Cathy Sadlier believes Carol's first day at school was a huge triumph and brought a happy ending to a long story.
She said: "When the story broke originally Breda couldn't believe the amount of cards and letters and good wishes she got from people all over the place - even people who didn't know the family.
"The fact that she is able to go to school is a credit to a lot of people but most of all her mum.
"Carol is a little dote and she is wildly excited about school."
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 14, 2000|
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