By Elizabeth Lee

NEARLY 20 factory workers have pledged to shave, dye or wax their hair in a bid to raise vital funds to help their colleague’s son, Aidan Maher, two, who has just been diagnosed with an illness incurable and debilitating.

Little Aidan cannot ingest food, is in constant pain and has to be artificially fed by hooking up to a machine for 17 hours a day. Aidan and his parents Nigel and Josephine from Tullow have just returned from a trip to Great Ormond Steet Hospital, London, where he was eventually diagnosed with a rare and incurable disease in his intestines, after attending the hospital for children of Crumlin for lifelong treatment.

He was just diagnosed with Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction, or POIC, which prevents food, fluids and air from moving through his stomach and intestines, for which there is no cure. His parents care for him at the Tullow home, where Aidan has to be hooked up to an intravenous feeding tube for 17 hours a day.

Aidan attends Crumlin at least once a week and faces two surgeries, one of which will be performed at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The little kid has already spent more than half his life in Crumlin because he’s so vulnerable that even a mild cold can send him back to the hospital. Aidan is the adored little brother of Conor (18), Darren (16), Róisín (14) and Kieran (13), for whom he is the light of their lives.

“Aidan is just amazing. He is still amazing in our eyes. Behind his web there is always so much going on. He struggles, but he is so brave,” his doting mother, Josephine, shared.

Now Nigel’s colleagues in Pilgrim’s Food Masters, Shillelagh are taking part in a shave or dye challenge, organized by Taragh Keogh, to raise money to help the Maher family with huge ongoing expenses. The event takes place this Thursday, November 10, as they hope to raise €10,000 to help the family.

Josephine said Nigel’s workplace has been incredibly supportive of her family since they learned of Aidan’s condition. Allowing Nigel to work from home means he and Josephine can take care of Aidan on their own, though the pressure and gravity of the situation never eases for them.

“Nigel and I were trained to use Aidan’s machines. It’s not easy and it never stops. It is a constant concern on a daily basis. There is no escaping it,” Josephine said.

The family is deeply grateful for all the support they have received so far and are amazed that so many people want to help.

They are also immensely proud of little Aidan who, despite the constant pain and discomfort, is living his little life as best he can with his love of music and toys.

Donations can be made via GoFundMe on the “Shave or dye to help Baby Aidan” page.

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