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Limerick Maternity Hospital

Shannon woman gives back to UMHL

WITH her twin boys safely home now, Claire Louise Lagan is very grateful for everything that was done for her at the Maternity Hospital in Limerick and she has now organised a GoFundMe in aid of the NeoNatal Trust Fund.

Earlier this month Claire Louise gave birth to twins Jai and Hunter, who arrived into the world a small bit earlier than had been expected. “They were five weeks premature so they needed to go into incubators for a couple of days, one got out before the other, and then they had to be feeding properly before they went home, so that was the main problem, they needed to be fed with tubes for more than a week.”

Because she was having twins, Claire Louise had to have appointments every fortnight throughout her pregnancy and she is very grateful for all the care she received there. “The Maternity over the last nine months has been amazing, so that’s why I wanted to do this. Also, they went straight down to neo-natal, they were there for two weeks. Now there have been babies there way longer than my two, but even the two weeks, it was stressful and hard getting in and out and things and I wanted to set up the fundraiser as a way to thank the hospital for everything.”

Of course her partner Alan Linton couldn’t come to the appointments with her due to Covid restrictions, and she says that was hard for both of them. “It is hard, but more so it’s hard for the partners. We (expectant mothers) get in there and get to see everything.”

At the time of the birth Alan was able to stay for 14 hours, as Claire Louise had some complications, but in many cases fathers are only at the hospital for an hour or two.

Given her experiences, she really wanted to do something major to help the hospital. “I didn’t just want to bring in chocolates and flowers when they had done loads. I asked someone in the Neo-Natal Unit what I could do and he said that they have a trust fund, they’re building a unit out the front, basically for families. I was discharged on Sunday and I had asked could I stay, because I didn’t really want to go home without them, but they didn’t have the beds. This family unit will be so that parents can stay and the neonatal unit at the moment has only three of the baby rooms, and this new unit will see things like the kitchen and offices moved out the front, freeing up room.”

Sometimes the lack of space can make things very difficult for families at what is already a very stressful time. “I was brought in on the Monday to be induced, but they said if there was no room in neo-natal the babies would have to be transferred to Galway or Cork or Dublin. They tried to hold off as long as they could and then room became available then. Some people weren’t as lucky and they had to go to different hospitals in different counties.”

Claire Louise said it was a very emotional moment when she had to go home without her boys, but she was able to go back every day they were there and some people have to wait much longer than she did to get newborns home. “I met a woman whose baby was there for 14 weeks. It’s hard for a lot of people.”

Writing on the GoFundMe page, Claire Louise again expressed her gratitude for the care received. “Myself, Alan, Hunter and Jai would like to thank the UMHL Staff, especially the Neonatal Staff, for all their help with getting our boys home happy and healthy.

“In doing so I want to try and raise as much money as I can for the Neonatal Trust Fund as they are currently building a family unit out the front of the hospital so they can take on more babies and also so parents can stay with their children in the hospital. This is very important as I myself was heartbroken leaving my boys there to go home.

“I think this is the perfect cause as I know a lot of babies from our town have been cared for in the Neonatal unit and it is a cause close to a lot of our hearts.”

To donate go to gofundme.com and search for Jai and Hunters thank you to UMHL Neonatal Unit.

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.