Golf fundraiser to aid Crumlin children’s hospital

The local organisers of an annual golf classic, which raises vital funds for Ireland’s largest paediatric hospital and takes place at Galway Golf Club on Friday May 2, are appealing to the public to sponsor events on the day.

Jim Doyle, the chairperson of the organising committee of Crumlin Golf Classic, is seeking sponsorship for €100 tee boxes and raffle prizes for the fundraiser, which has raised more than €500,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, since its inception 28 years ago. It also supports UHG’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“While the classic is booked out from a team point of view - there are 34 teams taking part on the day - the public can help out by sponsoring tee boxes or any form of prize for the raffle which will be held that evening,” says Mr Doyle.

“We raised €15,000 last year - we gave €12,000 to Crumlin and the remainder to the neonatal intensive care unit at UHG. We plan to do the same this year, donating 25 per cent of the sum raised to our local baby unit because of its link with the Crumlin hospital. The funds we raise for Crumlin go to its Children’s Medical Research Foundation. This is divided into capital expenditure, for the wards, and paediatric research. The money raised here and throughout the country in the last two years for Crumlin was €4.5m.”

Cross infection

Previous fundraising events helped finance the re-building of the hospital’s heart centre and St John’s cancer ward. Both these new facilities are now up and running.

“Every child who is quite ill [medium to long term stay patients )]has their own en suite room now. This is to prevent cross infection. In the past there were two to three small children to a room. Now the area that is badly in need is the outpatients’ department which was built over half a century ago. The money we raise now and in the coming years will go towards re-building that.”

More than 3,500 Galway children attend the Dublin hospital each year. In an average week 50 local children attend while one Galway child has surgery there daily.

Mr Doyle says the hospital is doing “remarkable” work and in addition to raising much needed funds the golf classic is heightening awareness about the first class service it provides.

“It can be described as a centre of excellence as far as children’s treatment is concerned. [Through tele-linking] it is linked on a worldwide basis with other facilities so doctors can consult with other experts abroad. The staff in Crumlin are unbelievable, they really are exceptional people.”

Mairead Leonard’s experience of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital was nothing short of “fantastic” she says.

Rare disorder

She first attended the facility two-and-a-half years ago with her youngest son Ethan who was diagnosed with a very rare disorder called McCune-Albright Syndrome. A condition which affects the bone and pigmentation of the skin it affects one in a million children.

Ethan (4 ) was 18-months-old and learning to walk when he began to complain of pains in his leg. He attended University Hospital Galway where it was discovered that he had fractured a bone in his lower leg.

“For a child who was not really walking that was a bit unusual,” says Mairead. “On the X-ray the doctors noticed he had a number of benign bone tumours throughout his hips and legs. Later a cafe-au-lait marking appeared on his right leg from his knee up to his bum. When they discovered the bone lesions the marks became quite important. It is a defining factor of the syndrome he was diagnosed with.”

The mother of three, who lives in Castlegar, is full of praise for UHG, especially consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Bill Curtin.

“They were amazing here, especially Mr Curtin. When we got the results [of Ethan’s medical tests] they pretty much indicated this syndrome. He was then referred to Crumlin Hospital and they confirmed the diagnosis.”

When Mairead heard her son was being referred to the Dublin hospital her heart sank, she recalls.

“I just felt that was bad. If they could not look after him here we were looking at something more serious I felt. But the consultant in Galway said it was a fantastic place and told us not to be put off by the look of the place. We couldn’t get over how old it looked when we first went there on the 1st of August 2011.”

Personal attention

However, the Leonards soon learned that appearances can be deceptive. “The staff were fantastic. We have yet to meet somebody who was not nice to us there. The personal attention is excellent. I’ve never left there feeling disappointed at the way we were treated. At this stage we have built up a relationship with them.

“One of the big things for me is the points of contact. The endocrinologist gave me his mobile number and his email address. He texts me test results. On the orthopaedic side the clinical nurse manager is amazing, any time I have a concern I can call her. I get so much comfort from knowing that I can contact them and they are there. I never find I have to chase things, they are just done. Crumlin has been a very positive experience for us. Because it’s such a rare disease they know themselves that they don’t know everything about it. I can bring research to them and they encourage it. We’ve been there as often as twice a week and we would attend outpatients twice a month on average. Ethan has about three to four in-patient stints of about a week.”

People interesting in sponsoring tee boxes or raffle prizes for the Crumlin Golf Classic or making a donation to the fund should telephone Jim Doyle at (086 ) 2208173 or Don Colleran at (087 ) 2454665 or John McGinley at (087 ) 2885585.

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