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  • Northside West

Local girl raises funds for cousins struck by chronic disease

Friday, 1st December, 2017 8:00am
Local girl raises funds for cousins struck by chronic disease

Rachel’s cousins, Clodagh and Sinead Laffey, are currently in Germany getting treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease.

Local girl raises funds for cousins struck by chronic disease

Rachel’s cousins, Clodagh and Sinead Laffey, are currently in Germany getting treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease.

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A SCHOOLGIRL from Coolmine has raised almost €2,000 to help fund treatment for her cousins who suffer from an invisible chronic illness caused by an insect bite.

Rachel Giles had her long blonde hair cut in St Francis Xavier National School in Blanchardstown for her cousins, Clodagh and Sinead Laffey, who are currently in Germany undergoing treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease.

Rachel’s gesture will also help children who have lost their hair either through alopecia or cancer as her hair will be used to make wigs for them her mam, Cecily Giles, told Northside People.

‘’Rachel was raising funds for her cousins’ treatment because they have to go abroad for it,” Cecily said.

“They have been over in Germany since the beginning of the summer, never mind having been over there a dozen times in the last few years.”

Chronic Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by some ticks. The bacteria attack all of the organ systems.

Siobhan (28) and Clodagh (23) both got the illness two years apart. They went over to the same part of America to work at a camp for underprivileged children, and were bitten seperately by infected ticks. 

Before falling ill, Siobhán, a social worker, and Clodagh, an occupational therapist, were both extremely fit and sporty. The two sisters from Curragha, Co Meath, both played camogie for their county. 

Chronic Lyme Disease is often misdiagnosed as other conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's. Siobhan and Clodagh were misdiagnosed by a number of doctors.

After researching Lyme Disease the Laffey’s parents brought them to specialists in Germany, who finally diagnosed them with Chronic Lyme Disease.

The cost of the treatments is ongoing for the family and they’re unsupported by their health insurance provider, as their Chronic Lyme Disease was not diagnosed in Ireland. 

‘’The Laffey sisters have private health insurance in Ireland and it doesn't cover them for their antibiotics or anything,” Cecily said. “There’s not one blood test have they had here that they didn’t have to pay for’’. 

According to Ann Maher a spokesperson for Tick Talk Ireland, a Lyme Disease awareness group, the issue around Chronic Lyme Disease is that it is not recognised as a chronic illness. 

‘Lyme disease is recognised as a disease here since 2012,” she explained.

“It’s only credible if you test positive here and they only recommend two to three weeks of antibiotics. If not diagnosed within a short period of time it develops to a serious chronic illness and that is not recognised anywhere.” 

The Laffey sisters are still over in Augsburg in Germany, now in week 25 of their treatment.

A go fund me page has been set up to help fund the girls’ treatment at


Rachel pictured after donating her hair. Rachel pictured before the haircut.

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