Loving Arms Christmas Appeal -Marie’s Letter

Dear Readers,

My name is Marie O’Halloran and I am writing to you today with a very special request.

Right now, the amazing team in Temple Street Hospital are urgently trying to replace some of their life-saving equipment – like the specialised incubators in ICU that help to save the lives of so many critically-ill children.

These special machines are saving lives every day. I know that, because one of the children they saved is my son Lorcan.

I want you to know just how much your support will mean to the families in Temple Street today. But to do that, I have to tell you about my two beautiful boys.

Five years ago, when myself and my husband Jonathan discovered we were expecting twins, I nearly fell off the chair. It was a really pleasant surprise because we had been trying for a while.

And everything was going well until I was scanned at 23 weeks. They noticed that there was one placenta and two cords and one of the babies was under pressure. We were faced with the prospect of having the babies delivered early because the risk was too great if we waited any longer.

So, at 25 weeks and 3 days, my twins, Cathal and Lorcan, were born. They weighed just 1.7lbs and 1.5lbs. I actually thought they were not going to survive at all. I thought the chances were too great. But then I heard them cry. That was just the most amazing sound. But it was the only time I heard Cathal cry.

Then they were whisked away and I didn’t get to see them until the following day in ICU. They were ventilated and in incubators. We couldn’t hold them, so I put my finger into Cathal and he grabbed it so tightly. And Lorcan wrapped his toes around my other finger.

Then Cathal became very ill. He picked up an infection. The doctors told us it was very serious. So, we christened the boys that night. It was such a lovely night.

Then the nurses asked if we’d like to hold Cathal. My husband asked “Is this it?” And they said ‘yes’. So, they took Cathal out and put him in my arms. I held him and my husband held both of us. Then I told Cathal it was ok to go. I felt it was important as his mum to tell him that he’d done all he could. He could go now.

Then Cathal passed away in our arms.

On the day of Cathal’s funeral we left our phones at home. And when we came back there were loads of missed calls telling us that Lorcan’s condition had deteriorated. He was being rushed by ambulance to Temple Street.

I remember them prepping him in the ambulance. And waving goodbye. I remember my brother-in-law driving us up to Temple Street.

I thought I was about to lose Lorcan too. I thought it would be like Cathal. I thought they would say ‘take him up in your arms and say goodbye’.

But I didn’t realise that they don’t give up. Temple Street never give up until there is absolutely nothing else that can be done.

The next day we met the surgeon Mr Gillick who told us they were going to operate on Lorcan. Lorcan’s surgery only lasted a few hours, which was a good sign. Then we went to ICU to see him.

He was still only 2lbs. He was in that ‘magic’ incubator which was helping to keep him alive. He couldn’t focus his eyes – his lovely blue eyes – but he could hear my voice.

I remember the incubator had a lid that could lift, so we could be closer and hold his forehead and his fingers. I spent endless time after the operation, just rubbing his forehead and telling him everything would be all right.

But  I also remember, every single time I went into ICU, I saw the little plaque on the side of the incubator Lorcan was in, telling me that it was the kind donations of people like you that put that incubator there.

And every time I thought, ‘do those people realise the good they are doing? Do they realise that my little man is alive because of them?’

And that’s why I am asking you to make a special donation to this Loving Arms Christmas Appeal. Because the incubator that helped to keep Lorcan alive urgently needs to be replaced. But that’s not all. There are so many other ways your gift will help.

Today your support is needed more than ever. So please give whatever you can to this special appeal, it is as easy as clicking here to donate.

Please, give whatever you can as soon as you can. Because all that matters is the children in Temple Street right now. I know how important your support will be for them. And I know how deeply appreciated it will be by every parent.

Two and half weeks after Lorcan’s surgery we were told we could go home to the hospital in Cork. It was the quickest packing of a car we ever did. But we were soon back in Temple Street. Lorcan needed more surgery to save his sight because his retinas were starting to detach.

We spent another six weeks in Temple Street, in Michael’s B and the High Dependency Unit. Lorcan was still only four and half pounds. Day-to-day we had no idea what was happening next. So, we just stepped back and let the experts do all that needed to be done.

Temple Street means the world to us. They just care so much. There is so much compassion, it’s not just the medical stuff. It’s everyone. The doctors and nurses. The porters, the social workers. And it’s all the amazing supporters like you.

You can’t go away from Temple Street without feeling that you are part of this amazing family of help and support.

And today Lorcan is thriving.

This September, five years to the day from when he was preparing for his first surgery, Lorcan had his first day at school.

Please, help us make this a really wonderful Christmas for sick children by making a special donation to Temple Street’s Loving Arms Christmas Appeal. Remember every gift you send will be used to help to provide essential life-saving equipment, just like the ‘magic’ incubator that that helped to keep my beautiful little boy alive. You can donate to this vital cause by clicking here or read more about the incubators here.

Right now, there is no place in Temple Street where grieving families can be alone with their child in the last and most precious moments of their life.

That’s why a part of every donation you send will be used to create a special room called the Butterfly Suite – a private and quiet little haven where families can hold their child for the last time with privacy and dignity.

I cannot begin to tell you how much that will mean.

All I know is that when we knew we had to say to goodbye to Cathal, every single moment was so precious. There is no other place your mind, your heart or your body are other than in that room.

Things narrow down to hours. Then minutes. Then seconds. I will never forget holding him and swaddling him in his little blanket knowing I was cuddling him for the last time. You want to drink in every single moment. You don’t want to spend it worrying about other people seeing you. Or the logistics of where you are. You want to feel safe and protected.

And that is why I am asking you to give whatever you can to help us give to the families and children who are in Temple Street right now, the most incredible Christmas present imaginable. Life-saving care for the children who are fighting for their lives.
And loving care and support for the families who are holding their child for the last time.

All our love,

Marie, Jonathon, Lorcan (and Cathal).