Offaly boy Joey Conway.

Joey home after life-changing Chicago surgery

Two-year-old Offaly boy Joey Conway has returned home from Chicago after major surgery that has changed his life.

On April 17, Joey had a five-hour surgery that resolved his life threatening symptoms from his Portal Hypertension condition.

The surgery was made possible by a local GoFundMe campaign that raised over €330,000.

Joe, son of Natalie and Tommy Conway, underwent meso-rex shunt bypass surgery that connects the superior mesenteric vein to the left portal vein using an internal jugular vein. This procedure bypasses the obstruction and restores normal portal flow into the liver.

Despite his young age, Joey has had a very eventful medical history. At only eight months old, he fought his first sepsis infection and then in March 2023, he fought for his life in the ICU in Crumlin with a second sepsis infection. During this time Joey was diagnosed and being managed for Portal Hypertension a rare condition that has life threatening symptoms.

Joey's parents are so grateful for the local support.

“The support from the Offaly GAA, Michael Duignan and Shane Lowry really helped get us over the line and be in a position to book the surgery even sooner than we ever expected,” said Joey’s Mum Natalie. “We are so grateful to absolutely everyone!”

Joey’s Dad Tommy added: “To be honest this seems surreal to be in a position at home today that Joey is well, we don’t have to be sitting on the edge of our seats worrying if he is going to have a bleed.”

Joey now has a chance to live life, running around outside, playing football with his brother Jordi, dancing with his sister Molly and going to preschool in September. “There are already changes that we can see in him, he seems happier in himself that discomfort and pain is gone, his complexion and skin is brighter and full of life and he is flying around like a man on a mission to make up for the last two years of illness,” explained Natalie.

There is still a post-op road to travel with Joey to ensure the shunt is working. The family will travel over to Chicago every three months for the next year for follow-ups which will hopefully become biannually to annually in the coming years.