Philadelphia is beginning to feel like a second home for brave little Maisie McQuaid!
For the past nine months, the three-year-old has been travelling back and forth from her home in Dromore to the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia 3,000 miles away for specialist and potentially life-saving treatment.
Maisie is currently living with idiopathic infantile scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. The condition affects children before the age of three and is characterised by the presence of an abnormal curve of the spine to the right or the left. If left untreated, the condition could be life-threatening, as the spinal deformity can cause serious problems with heart and lung function.
Thanks to the generosity and tireless hard work of the local community, Maisie and her parents - Geraldine and Aidan - have been able to avail of the world's best treatment.
Maisie, who attends Dromore Community Playgroup, departed for her fourth appointment in the US on Thursday last - and she is becoming a popular figure at the Shriners Hospital.
And after having her fourth mehta-cast fitted - which is hoped will reduce the curvatures in her spine - Maisie was able to take advantage of the heavy snowfall that had threatened to disrupt their flights, as she thoroughly enjoyed throwing snowballs at her father!
"We arrived back in Dromore on Monday morning," said Geraldine. "It was an overnight flight, we were delayed for three hours in Philadelphia due to adverse weather conditions.
"A lot of flights were cancelled so we were very relieved to get home. There had been a lot of snow on Friday, and it was very cold, but Maisie enjoyed the snow
"We got out for a nice walk and Maisie was throwing snowballs at her daddy! She thought it was the funniest thing ever! Maisie was walking in it and jumping in it, she was in great form."
Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution...