“I was so excited for my gender scan. I could hardly wait to find out if it was a boy or a girl, but at the next appointment I remember the room going silent. I knew we were in trouble. My little baby had a condition called congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM). One of Daniel’s lungs hadn’t developed properly and air-filled cysts had developed in its place. I had to move to Dublin before he was born because they wouldn’t have the facilities to take care of him in Tralee, Kerry, and it was such a high risk pregnancy. So I spent the two and a half months before Daniel’s birth in Dublin because our baby would need to be close to Crumlin when he was born where they had the knowledge and experience to mind him. I had to leave my five and two year old daughters and my husband. It was so scary and lonely. I missed their birthdays and Christmas, but we had no choice. There wasn’t a single night when I didn’t tell my bump to hang in there, that he was already so loved and had so many people waiting to meet him.
We were told to be prepared for a possible stillbirth and it was devastating. Trying to digest that news was awful. It was even worse telling my close friends and family. I could barely make it to the end of the sentence without bursting into tears. There was no telling if Daniel would be able to breath on his own until he was born. His heart rate went very high and I had to have an emergency caesarean section. My husband was on his way but I knew he wasn’t going to make it on time. It was terrifying to be on my own. The room was filled with people and when Daniel was born kicking and screaming they erupted into cheering and clapping! It was like having the Kerry team in the delivery room with me. He was breathing on his own, our little fighter.
Everything was fine until he had his six week check-up back in the Coombe. His x-ray showed that the tumours in his lung were so big that they’d pushed his heart to the right side of his body, under his armpit. They were compressing the main veins to his heart and we had to get him back to Crumlin immediately. He had the tumours removed on the 23rd of February this year, when he was just over six weeks old. It went so well and three weeks after that we were finally on our way home to Kerry with our beautiful, healthy little baby. The pathology results came back and it was type 1 non-malignant. It was the most enormous relief of my life. They got it all out during surgery and said there would be no further effects. He was in the clear. I was in shock. We had been through so much in those few months and I was so excited to get home to our family.
I couldn’t believe someone so tiny could go through so much. I never left Daniel’s side and I’m so proud of him. Thank god for educated minds. Mr Jonathan McGuinness is a superhero in our house. He truly is one of life’s gentlemen and, without doubt, he saved my son’s life. Prof Paul McNally was so thorough and there for us whenever we needed him. Dr Gavin Kane was also an amazing doctor who took time to answer all my questions, and Gale was a very special staff nurse. She put a smile on our faces through the tears, and for that I will never forget her. I can’t thank the team at Crumlin enough for saving Daniel’s life.
Thank God for Crumlin and the amazing people that work there. They will always hold a special place in our hearts. Always.”
- Sara and Adrian O’Connor, Daniel’s parents.