UP to €4m will have to be raised to end the practice of parents having to 'slop out' for terminally ill children at the country's main paediatric hospital.
An €8m revamp of wards at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin to provide en suite toilets and showers has begun but fundraisers say millions of euro are still needed.
Consultants at the hospital have condemned the outdated facilities on cancer and cardiac wards that force bedridden children to use portable commodes.
Their parents and nurses then run the risk of spreading infection by moving the commodes to empty them.
Consultant paediatric haematologist Aengus O Marcaigh noted that the age-old practice of 'slopping out' had largely stopped in prisons but was still part of everyday life for seriously ill children.
Antoinette Doyle, whose daughter Caitlin has been treated for leukaemia at the hospital, said children should not have to use commodes in rooms they may share.
A 'Fix Crumlin' campaign, run by the hospital's fundraising arm, the Children's Medical and Research Foundation, has drafted plans to build en suite toilets in the wards. It wants to have them in place by the summer, well ahead of the planned national children's hospital at St James's Hospital, which will not be finished until 2017.
The foundation said all children under 16 in the country who are diagnosed with cancer are treated in the "cramped and uncomfortable" St John's Ward.
However, it has no private bathroom facilities for patients or their families, or private rooms for terminally ill children.
The foundation said its fundraising campaign is halfway there, but another "critical investment" of €4m is required so it can build 19 single rooms with en suite facilities. It also plans to construct an upgraded playroom, a 'den' for adolescents and comfortable facilities for parents.
The redevelopment project will also see the construction of a state-of-the-art, four-bed bone marrow transplant unit, with en suites and rooming-in facilities for parents.
A spokesperson at Crumlin Hospital said there was no one available to comment on the existing toilet arrangements yesterday. To donate to Fix Crumlin call 1890 507 508 or visit fixcrumlin.ie.