3 Year 'Heartiversary' for Darragh
Darragh was just six days old when he had his first open heart surgery to fix a Congenital Heart Defect in CHI at Crumlin. Then when he was 4 months old he was showing signs that he needed further surgery. This was a touch and go time for his parents Rose-Marie and Colm who anxiously saw their little boy wheeled in for another serious and long surgery. After 52 days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Darragh pulled through. Darragh has defied the odds and came through another surgery to replace the pulmonary valve in 2018. Now three years old, Darragh is thriving and looking forward to starting playschool.
“Darragh was born with a heart condition, and we spent a lot of time in Crumlin for his surgeries and the recuperating time as well. When we eventually got home, we decided we needed to do something to try to pay back the hospital,” says Rose-Marie O’Loughlin, “so now we fundraise for CMRF Crumlin and Ronald McDonald House. For the first year, 2018, we did a coffee morning. People came and gave a donation, and we were overwhelmed by the volume of supporters raising over €7,000.”
“The second year we moved venues because we needed a bigger space because we were jam packed and people wanted to stay longer, it was a huge success, and we raised about €6,500. So this year, obviously the time frame we wanted to do it in was in the middle of COVID19, we could have waited to see if restrictions would be relaxed a little bit. But we're not professional caterers, we're family and friends coming together to do this and it can be hard to get everything right to follow the guidelines. So we said we’ll do an online virtual coffee morning. People can Zoom each other, friends and families. And then when we did it, small groups could actually get together in person to have their coffee morning. So we just said, make your own coffee and please give a donation. It's been hugely successful, and for people who couldn't support the local event the last two years they could support this event. People just want to support Crumlin hospital because it's one of those charities that everyone will support if they see a fundraiser. This year we raised a phenomenal €8,250.
It's actually really hard to think back to our time in the hospital. This time three years ago we were in hospital. There was no talk of leaving. It's really hard to believe in some ways, and yet when we were there we just got on with it. We took everything day by day. There were no plans being made. It was day to day living, and there were times when it would just hit you really hard. You just felt like your life was passing by, and we still had our two other kids at home. My motto was: I am where I am needed. If I was at home I couldn't feel guilty about not being in the hospital, and if I was in the hospital I couldn't feel guilty about not being at home.
Darragh has come so far. He's amazing, and he keeps us on our toes. He never stops at home now. He's like your typical three and a half year old boy. He's into everything, and wants to do everything. He's a real little character, and he loves the fun he has with siblings and cousins. But there's definitely pure devilment in him as well. He's all go but his brother and sister, Cian and Molly, are very good with him. We have to be careful because he's still on several medications, for instance blood thinners, so he has to be more careful because it could impact him. He doesn't understand that fully yet but it is part of our day to day care. The bumps and knocks that are normal for a three year old can be more serious for him. We are more careful but there's a balance in that. He definitely enjoys life, and he's not restricted in any way.”
Rose-Marie and Colm know only too well the strain that having a sick child in hospital can put on a family. They put their faith into the staff in the hospital to save their son because that was the best way for them to get Darragh home. She urges other families in similar situations to have faith, but also to trust their instincts.
“Take it day by day. Trust in the experts they know what they're talking about and what they're doing. Take all of their advice on board, and make it fit for your family. Advocate for your child and ask questions and find out as much as you can from the people who are looking after your child. That really helped us. The more you can understand it, the easier it is. You know your child best so if you feel something is not right, speak up.”
Rose-Marie, Darragh’s Mum
With your support we will continue to do #WhateverItTakes