Eleven month-old Ollie O’Connell has inspired a massive local fundraising drive for the new cardiac unit in Crumlin Hospital.
Ollie’s Little Heart Appeal has so far raised over €55,000. Two weeks ago, Brannoxtown National School hosted a cake sale for this worthy cause, raising over €685 and Ollie popped along.
“Fifth and sixth Class served eager parents and fellow pupils the delicious cakes, buns and other tasty treats on display. Ollie was born in March 2012 in the Coombe with Down Syndrome and a complex Congenital Heart Defect. He was transferred to Crumlin where he underwent 11 surgeries including major open heart surgery, proving what a resilient little boy he is,” said the school.
However, the little fighter had a minor setback last week when he was back in hospital with a virus. His mum, Katrina explained this was only a small blip after everything he had been through, and Ollie is expected to be home soon. Ollie battled through three major heart surgeries and was even on a heart and lung bypass machine at one stage. He spent two months in intensive care and was gravely ill in July before he made a full recovery. Then he was brought back in before Christmas to be weaned off the feeding tube. Crumlin once more beckoned last week when he contracted a virus. His dad, Noel and brothers Daniel (13), Jack (11) and Niall (6) can’t wait to have him home once he is better.
“He had a tough time after one of the operations and was in hospital for six months but he is doing really well now. His immune system is always going to be a bit low and that’s probably why he picked up the virus,” said Katrina.
“We feel the worst is behind us. It’s been a rough year, but we are looking forward now. We are doing the appeal to raise money for the cardiac unit being built at the moment. They hope to have it opened in July, but there is a shortfall of €600,000.”
Speaking last Monday February 18, she told the Leader the staff at the hospital were brilliant, but “the conditions are so archaic. The accommodation is terrible, the rooms are tiny. While the new cardiac unit won’t fix all the problems at the hospital, it will make a difference for so many families.”
Kilcullen Beaver Scouts also rowed in behind the fundraising effort and hosted a cake sale on Sunday February 10, collecting over €355. The O’Connell family also organised a sponsored cycle in October. The final fundraiser takes place on April 20 in Fallons in Kilcullen. Tickets for a three-course champagne dinner cost just €55 and the money raised will go towards the unit. Katrina hopes to have the doctors and surgeons, who treated Ollie, there on the night to accept the cheque.
If you would like to help, you can visit Ollie Little Heart Appeal on Facebook or you can kindly donate to Account Number: 11128325, Sort Code: 90 11 40, Ref: 4500Ollie.
- Niamh O’Donoghue