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‘Miracle baby’s’ mum leads call to support BUMBLEance campaign

A KILLALOE mother-of-four has urged people to support a charity that transports children with special needs long distances to their hospital appointments.
Born prematurely at 30 weeks and six days, Shaye Collins was covered in a rash, needed a blood transfusion and had to be ventilated straight away.
A few days after his birth, Shaye’s family were devastated when he was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), an extremely rare and life-threatening blood disease that no premature baby in Ireland had ever survived.
Veronica Collins estimated they have used the BUMBLEance Children’s Ambulance about 30 times over the last two years.
Shaye (4), who has been described as a “miracle baby” likes to watch cartoons like Peppa Pig at the back of the ambulance, which keeps him occupied. Older children are provided with a play station for online games.
“It is a pity we didn’t know about the BUMBLEance initially because we were in Crumlin Hospital weekly after Shaye was born when we came back from a hospital in London.
There have been over 14,000 trips nationwide since BUMBLEance’s inception and there are hundreds of families availing of the charity’s services, all of which are free.
Despite fundraising plans being devastated due to the pandemic, the charity continues to help families from across the country and provide invaluable support.
Shaye has very regular hospital appointments in Dublin hospitals on average one a month, which are now part of his normal routine.
Recently, the BUMBLEance took Shaye for a dexa scan in Temple Street Hospital, which was a source of great relief for Veronica as the first time she drove there she had difficulty finding parking in the middle of Dublin City.
“I nearly lost my life, I swore I would never do it again. I previously had the stress of trying to find parking and not be late for the appointment. At that stage, Shaye has had enough because he has been in the car seat a few hours already.
“If I lived in Dublin, I would know where I could park.”
She stressed using the national children’s ambulance eliminates the stress out of driving long journeys to take Shaye to his hospital appointments.
“If Shaye happens to vomit, you have to stop on the side of the road and look after him. I could drive another stretch, he could get sick again and I would have to stop again. It was very stressful.
I remember crying coming down the road from Dublin to Clare while Eoin would be at home looking after our other children.
“He seems to have a bad reaction when he is put to sleep after some procedures, which happens quite regularly.
“Sometimes, he can be very cross and vomit. Crumlin Hospital keep him overnight when they put him to sleep now because of that.”
Now, Veronica can stay in the back of the BUMBLEance with Shaye and they normally stop along the way to Dublin when he will look for a toy or a treat, as he “milks it for all he can”.
She said all the BUMBLEance drivers know Shaye at this stage and they enjoy friendly banter during the journey.
“Shaye is so used to BUMBLEance at this stage and is excited to see it coming to the front door.
He can’t wait to use it every time.
Shaye can watch television or enjoy the sensory lights that can be switched on and off. There are loads of books and blankets in the ambulance.
“It is a real chill out and positive experience for him. The odd time that BUMLEance isn’t available and I have to drive him, Shaye can’t understand it and says ‘why are we not going on BUMBLEance mom’.”
Shaye said he really loves the BUMLEance and really likes the driver Chris McCarthy and watching Peppa Pig and Frozen.
Veronica is also very grateful for the support the family has received from Jack and Jill Foundation nurse, Evelyn Quigley since Shaye was about six months old.
Ms Quigley has provided eight hours respite a week pre-Covid-19 and Veronica now considers her as part of their family. When Shaye was very young Ms Quigley used to look after him so that Veronica and Eoin could get a night’s sleep.
“The Jack and Jill Foundation have provided great support to us as well. If I am ever worried about anything I can ring Evelyn and get advice, which is great.”
BUMBELance co-founder, Tony Heffernan said they hope to have 14 ambulances operational by the end of this year after launching their first one in September 2013.
It costs almost €1 million to run the charity on an annual basis.
Mr Heffernan told the Clare Champion they have launched a new fundraising drive for a new Munster BUMBLEance to serve the Mid-West and Cork, replacing the current one based in Zimmer Biomet, Shannon.
The charity hopes to raise over €250,000 through the initiative to fund this new vehicle and regional service.
“For years, we have been transporting our King and Queen Bees from Clare in comfort. We are asking Clare people to get behind this amazing initiative and help us fund this new state-of-the-art vehicle,” he said.
People who would like to support the charity can text Munster to 50300 and can participate in a virtual fundraising event during the June Bank Holiday weekend.

by Dan Danaher

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