Sunday 25 June 2017

Tragic Gillian's book for CF patients hits shelves

John Spain

It's one of the saddest but also one of the happiest book stories of the year. Next Thursday a beautiful children's book will be published which is the work of a remarkable little girl from Athy, Co Kildare, who died two years ago from Cystic Fibrosis.

Gillian Dempsey was 10 years old when she died from CF. Despite her illness, she had managed to do something very few children do -- she wrote a book when she was just eight, which she called Frogs of a Different Nature.

We all get a frog in our throat sometimes, and Gillian wanted to explain that for CF sufferers it's like having frogs in your lungs. She wrote the book to explain to young CF sufferers what they will experience and not to be afraid when they cough up frogs in their lungs.

The book is entirely in Gillian's own words, exactly as she wrote them. Nothing has been changed, say her parents, Joe and Elaine Dempsey.

"Despite Gillian's illness she was like all little girls of her age", Joe says. "She was happy-go-lucky. She didn't complain much about her illness but when she did she had a very colourful tongue!"

After Gillian died two years ago, Joe and Elaine were determined to get her book published. It's taken two years, but through the kindness of Gerry Kelly, the former boss of ColourBooks in Dublin, the biggest book printer in Ireland, Gillian's book is now coming out.

The connection is that Mr Kelly is also from Athy. He had promised the Dempsey family that he would do Gillian's book for free -- but ColourBooks closed down a month ago with the loss of 45 jobs. Under the circumstances Gillian's family would have understood if her book had not made it.

But this was a promise that Mr Kelly was determined to keep and before the closure Gillian's book was printed. It will be launched next Thursday, June 9, at the Carlton Abbey Hotel in Athy at 8pm. All the money from sales of the book will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Unit in Crumlin Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Sunday Independent

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