Becoming a teenager is a big deal for any parent, but Limavady dad Trevor Eakin has extra reason to be proud of his miracle son Dale who celebrated his 13th birthday on Friday.
The brave Limavady lad, born weighing just over 3lbs, was diagnosed with the extremely rare genetic condition, Yunis Varon Syndrome. Dale wasn’t expected to live for more than 24 hours and is believed to be one of two survivors of the condition in the world.
Dale spent almost four years in Altnagelvin before mum Jackie and Trevor were able to bring him home. Dale still requires intensive care, but 13 years on he has defied the odds. He is thriving in his second year at Rossmar School in Limavady and recently enjoyed a trip to the home of his favourite football team, Newcastle United thanks to the “fantastic” Rays Of Sun Foundation.
“The farthest Dale has ever been is the hospice in Glengormley, so this was an adventure and he coped really well. It was a big step. Now we know Dale can do it again,” said Trevor, adding he can’t thank the Foundation enough.
Once the family arrived in Newcastle, they were treated “like royalty”. From watching the “Magpies” play to meeting the footballers, Trevor said Dale “took everything in and loved every minute of it. He barely slept because he didn’t want to miss anything. Dale is a real people watcher.”
Also on the trip was family friend Lester Ferris, who has known and helped Dale since birth and “is like a brother” to Trevor.
Carers also helped Dale with all his equipment as did Donegal couple, Margaret and Seamus Given, parents of footballer Shay Given. After meeting Seamus some years ago, the families have become good friends.
“Shay has been great to Dale. He gave him Alan Shearer’s testimonial shirt and his boots, signed. Anytime Shay is in Donegal he comes to see Dale.
“We didn’t know if Dale could do this kind of trip. Now we know he can,” said Trevor, adding: “It was a dream come true.”