TWELVE families whose children owe their lives to a maternity hospital's neo-natal unit have delivered the perfect Christmas fundraising gift as a festive 'thank you'.
A special charity calendar for Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) has been launched, with pride of place going to record-breaking Waterford triplets born on Christmas Day who survived despite being born 113 days premature.
Matt, Ethan and Lucy O'Rourke are now thriving despite being born 16 weeks and one day premature -- five days earlier than the existing Guinness Book of Records for premature triplets at 108 days.
When delivered on Christmas Day last year they weighed around 1lb each and required 18 blood transfusions over their first six months of life.
The triplets had to stay in CUMH for six months and only arrived home last July to a hero's welcome in their west Waterford village of Clashmore.
The triplets dressed in special Santa Claus outfits for the December entry in a charity calendar aptly called: 'Look How Far We Have Come.'
"We wanted to do something for the hospital because they were absolutely incredible to us and the children," their father Pat O'Rourke explained.
The family admitted they didn't know what to think when the triplets were born so early. The fundraising venture was the brainchild of Cork mum, Linda Good, who delivered identical twins, Ivy and Johanna in CUMH in January who also weighed just over 1lb.
The calendar is on sale for €10 in bookshops and newsagents across Cork and Waterford as well as from CUMH. Outlets for the calendar can be found on www.mycharity.ie/event/neo_grads