Mum of Derry toddler who needs treatment in America ‘desperate’ for help

Nikita Burke’s two year old son Patrick was diagnosed with scoliosis last year and he will soon start travelling to America for treatment.

Patrick’s uncle Gavin started a fundraiser to help fund the treatment as Nikita and Patrick will have to travel to Philadelphia every eight weeks for four days at a time. Nikita is unsure how long the treatment will last but another child with Patrick’s condition, albeit a worse case of scoliosis, had been undergoing treatment for six years before the treatment was completed.

Nikita said: “Patrick is nearly three so he never stops. We’re always trying to get him to sit down and calm down because now we know there’s something wrong with his back. He has none of it though, he’s so hyper! Thankfully, his back doesn’t stop him now from doing anything. You can see that his side goes out, which we’ve noticed since he was born, and it’ll get worse as he grows. We just need this treatment now because if he doesn’t get it now, in America, they’ll treat him here with surgery. It’s early intervention. If he was to be treated here, they would put a cast on until he’s old enough for surgery but over there, they deal with younger children who have scoliosis. They put a specialist cast on which corrects the curve and straightens his spine. The straightening will last then for years but he has to get the cast changed every eight weeks for now. We don’t know how long the treatment will last, there’s other people who have had to do this for six years but it all depends on the curve.

“Patrick only got diagnosed recently. Last June, I kept pushing for an x-ray and they eventually did it and said it was scoliosis. They then sent him to Musgrave. In January this year, he had another x-ray and we found out about the percentage of his curve and everything else. Last year, his curve was 11% and this April, it was 35.8%. It has come on a good bit now.


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“If Patrick’s running round playing, he will tell us his back hurts and hold his back. His curve is at the top of his back but he was always holding the bottom so I took him to the doctors who told me he had two curves. I didn’t know that initially.

“I spoke to a group of parents who had travelled from the north over to America for treatment and they were able to tell me about it at first. The hospital doesn’t tell you to go or anything but they sent me forms to get filled out, which I got the doctors here to sign. The American hospital had to accept us then, which they did, and now we’re waiting for a date for the end of September for the start of treatment.

“I’m terrified of going to America for the treatment. Even travelling for eight hours alone with a three year old will be hard enough! I have three children, Patrick is the youngest then Abaigh is his big sister, she’s seven and Shannon is 18. I can’t afford to take the other two children with me. Patrick’s daddy can’t even come and he would love to, especially for the first time but we just can’t afford it. Abaigh doesn’t want us to go away for the first five days either. She says her daddy will have to do her hair and she’s affronted! I’m never away from them so it’ll be hard on her. I don’t smoke or drink or go out, apart from going to the Focus Project in Rathmor for a few hours a week and then back to them. They’re always with me so it’ll be hard for Abaigh.

“Abaigh is only seven but she’s organised a cake sale to raise money for his treatment, that will take place during the Rathmor Family Fun Day on Saturday, August 20. She saves all her money, too, for Patrick. If someone gives her a pound, she puts it in the jar to help. I feel bad for her because she feels like she has to do it. I buy her things in the shop if she asks for it but all her money goes into the jar. I try not to buy them too much now too because I wouldn’t have the money with the cost of living nowadays anyway but we’re trying to save everything we can for travel. It’s so hard.


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Two year old Patricks x-ray scans show the curvature of his spine. Patrick has to travel to America to get treatment for his scoliosis, which will mean he won't have to get surgery on his spine when he is older.

“The fundraiser will pay for flights, accommodation and necessities when we get out there and Patrick wouldn’t be able to get his treatment without it. I don’t know what to do because I’m struggling to get the information out there to let people know about it. I don’t know how to reach the right people who can help me and I don’t know what to do. I would do anything to get enough money to get Patrick out there for his treatment. I would sell my organs if I had to just so he would be okay. I’m desperate. If anyone has any information on how to do fundraising, contact me. It’s so hard to know how to do it. I know people are struggling too but if 100 people each gave one pound, that would be £100 closer to our target and to getting Patrick the treatment he needs.”

Patrick’s family are hoping to raise £20,000 to cover the costs. Donations can be made at

Patrick's big sister Abaigh saves all her money in a jar to help her brother. She is holding a bun sale on Saturday, August 20 in the Rathmor Centre Family Fun Day with all proceeds going towards her brothers travel for his treatment.


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Two year old Patrick with his big sister Abaigh. Patrick will have to travel to America with his mum Nikita every six weeks for a number of years to get treatment for his scoliosis.