THE mother of a seriously ill baby has paid tribute to royalty and celebrities, including Kate Middleton and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who have written in support of a book aimed at helping the family.
Six-month-old Lucy Gallagher suffers from harlequin ichthyosis – a rare genetic skin disorder that means her body generates too much skin, causing cuts and abrasions.
Mum Carleen (32) is a teacher at Rosses Community School, Dungloe, Co Donegal, where her pupils decided to pen a fundraising book 'Heroes in the Classroom' and even managed to get some celebrities to take part.
"The community at home has been incredible," Carleen said. "The book idea was fantastic and we are so grateful to all the pupils and my colleagues at the school. Doctors informed us that she is, at present, the only child in Ireland with this condition and that there are less than 100 worldwide.
"Lucy spent her first nine weeks in an incubator where she was covered hourly in paraffin gel. She was given a medicine to encourage her yellow scales to shed.
"Her new skin is red and flaky. As Lucy was born with her eyelids flipped inside out, eye gel had to be applied hourly to ensure they didn't dry out. She gets fed mainly through a tube that connects her nose and tummy.
"When Lucy was 12 weeks old, she suffered a serious eye infection, which has meant she had to undergo six eye surgeries. She has had a taste of cosmetic surgery, sporting a pair of new eyelids and has had the outer part of her eyes permanently stitched closed to try to prevent another eye infection."
In the book, the Duchess of Cambridge said she admired all of her teachers, who "all inspired her", while William said it would be "unfair to single out one teacher" as they had all inspired him.
Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson wrote to pupil Calum Boyle, congratulating the school on the new book.
RTE's Mary Kennedy – who helped to launch the book – singled our her French and Irish teacher Joan Redmond at Colaiste Brid in Clondalkin, saying the teacher gave her a love of languages and was "funny, warm and friendly".
Donegal senior team captain Michael Murphy praised Neil Gordon, a teacher at St Eunan's College in Letterkenny. "He encouraged me to repeat my Leaving Cert after being unsuccessful in obtaining my preferred college course," he wrote.
Rosses Community School principal John Gorman said the book was "an incredible piece of work" by the students. "The fact the first 400 print run has almost sold out speaks volumes about them as well as the Gallagher family," he said.
Order 'Heroes in the Classroom' by telephoning: 07495 21122. Price: €10. All proceeds go to help baby Lucy