By Brighid Sheridan
Whether zooming into the kitchen, tickling her pet dog or having fun with her five siblings, nine year old Alice Boyd from Buncrana, is a powerhouse of energy.
A typical fun loving child with a great big smile, Alice has had more than most to cope with. In her short life she has had eight operations and has broken over 50 bones. This hasn’t stopped her from engaging in life to the full. Her latest operation took place just two weeks ago in Sheffield, England, but she was back in school just a few days later.
Alice was diagnosed with a rare bone condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) or Brittle Bone disease, at just five weeks old. Doctors found she had a broken femur. However, new bone had already begun to form which lead the medical team to believe that the fracture had occurred at birth. Alice has type Four OI, a milder version. OI is a genetic condition and in her case it is caused by a genetic mutation.
Alice’s body produces collagen but it is of poor quality. Bone deformations are common and may get worse as the child grows. She herself says that,” I have softer bones than most people.”
Her mother Jacky Boyd adds, “ Alice doesn’t see herself much differently from other children her age and neither do we. She is treated equally by everybody except sometimes she breaks a bone. She participates in most areas of family life as much as possible.”
Alice loves nothing more than chasing after the family dog Milo. She is often found speeding after him in her specially customised pink wheelchair in the back yard. When Alice, unfortunately, does break a bone all her siblings rally around and can be often found by her side in the emergency department.
The young patient is well known in A&E and as her mother adds, “ She is treated wonderfully by medical staff.”
Mrs Boyd is full of praise for hospital staff who treat her on a regular basis both here and in the UK.
Twice a year Alice receives an IV infusion of Zoledronic acid. Each infusion lasts an hour and is administered when Alice attends Sheffield hospital where she has received the specialist treatment from birth. These injections will be given annually until she reaches the age of 16 when bones usually stop growing. The latest operation lasted just over four hours.
Jacky continues “It was an anxious wait, but well worth it. She had a rod replaced in her left leg. She also had two plates added into both ankles and had a plate removed from one of her knees. The rods help when a fracture occurs by lending strength to the existing bones.
“In what is considered quite a substantial procedure Alice recovered very quickly. Recovery is usually five to seven days but she was in hospital for remarkably only three days. She arrived home on Wednesday and was back at school the following Monday. We are extremely proud of her.”