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Home / JIA Ambassadors / Patrick's story

Patrick's story

Patrick Kehoe (13) has Down syndrome and is also non-verbal.


He was diagnosed with Down's arthritis when he was nine. Patrick had been limping for over a year, which was getting progressively worse, but was attributed to the fact that he has Down syndrome and low muscle tone. He then broke his femur on Easter Sunday 2014 when he was running in a garden.


Arthritis was placed on his family's radar at a mobile clinic in Dundalk to see if children with Down syndrome have markers to develop arthritis in adulthood. An appointment in Crumlin followed quickly afterwards and Patrick was diagnosed with arthritis in more than 15 joints. He was booked in for treatment three weeks later. He has since been diagnosed with osteopenia and his bones are thinning and eroding.


Patrick is up and down, pain wise, at the moment. He has chronic arthritis in his left thumb and the joint is very deformed. He struggles to hold a pencil. He has bony growths on his knee and his fingers and wrists are sore.


As he is non-verbal, it is difficult for him to communicate how bad his pain is and where exactly it is. He points to a place on his body to show his mum that he’s sore, but it could also be sore elsewhere. He is due to have an MRI on his wrist in June to see if there’s active arthritis.


Patrick’s mum Elaine says that her son keeps her going. He is always so happy and smiley, she says. He has been through so much from open heart surgery at six-months-old to a broken femur, but he just gets on with everything. He doesn’t let anything get him down. He is unbelievably brave and a real fighter. It’s just unfortunate that he has so many battles to fight.


'Our happy, friendly, smiley Patrick. Myself, his daddy and his three sisters wouldn't change him for the world. We adore him.'