Fundraisers Teresa Roche, ultra runner Paul Twomey and Sinead Walsh presenting the cheque to Anne Blanche, Clinical Nurse Manager in the SCBU, Portlaoise hospital.
A grateful Laois first time mother whose premature baby was minded in the Special Care Baby Unit in Portlaoise hospital, has presented the unit with cash to buy important equipment for babies.
Sinead Walsh and her husband Donagh welcomed their baby girl Dominique to the world on March 21 2017, six weeks early by emergency caesarian section.
“She weighed 5lb 3oz, and needed special care. She wasn't breathing on her own or feeding on her own,” said Sinead.
It was a difficult time she said.
“I didn't get to hold her for the first 24 hours. For us mammies especially first time, it's very difficult not to have your baby beside you, I had to be helped down to the unit to see her,” she said.
While Sinead was discharged home, Dominique had to stay in the unit for her first two weeks.
“It is hard enough to see you child there and you can't walk out the door and bring them home, but it would have been so much more difficult if this unit wasn't in Portlaoise and we had to travel to Dublin to see her. It was on our doorstep and we could ring any time, they are just wonderful,” said Sinead.
Sinead who herself works in Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise , had not know about the SCBU unit beforehand.
“I had never heard of SCBU and would not even know it existed until unfortunately my little girl needed help in the first few weeks of her life,” she said.
The Special Care Baby Unit opened in 2002 in Portlaoise hospital's maternity unit. It provides vital care for babies who need specialist support after birth.
This can be babies struggling to maintain their temperature, babies born with infections and require antibiotics, very sick babies who need help breathing or have problems feeding and require tube feeding.
“They need help with funding. They don't have enough breastpumps. I was trying to pump myself and they needed to get pumps back off parents because they didn't have enough. The government should pay for this. There is only one cubicle, and they also need heated cots, and rely on sponsorship to get equipment like this” said Sinead.
She decided to go about raising some money in thanks for Dominique's care.
“The unit means a lot to me. We wanted to help other babies and families who will use it,” she said.
Last November 22 she held a table quiz in Humes Pub in Portlaoise, to a full house including hospital staff, family and friends.
She raised over €2,000 and then got an extra boost when ultra runner Paul Twomey from Cork who learned of her fundraising, dod the “Raw Ultra Wicklow Way 100 mile Run” on December 7 and 8 and raised another €900 on a GoFundMe page he set up.
Sinead with Paul recently presented a total of €3,505 to the SCBU, accepted by Anne Blanche, who is Clinical Nurse Manager of the unit.
“I'd like to thank everyone who came to the quiz, who sold tickets and helped on the night, and donated prizes. And a special thank you to Paul Twomey, what he did was just wonderful,” said Sinead.
As for little Dominique, she is now almost two years old and the apple of her parents' eyes.
“She is absolutely flying it now, not a bother on her. She has never looked back since,” said her proud mother.
Below: table quiz winners Clare Delaney, Anne Blanche, Jane Barry, Gillian and Antonia Blanche in Humes Pub.