Wednesday 22 October 2014

Families thank their hospital 'heroes'

Michael Staines

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

Dr Laura Viani with Casey and Bailey Conn.
Barbara O'Keefe and husband Frank

Barbara O'Keefe planned her wedding five times. The invitations went out and the acceptance cards came back but each time a heart condition got in the way of her tying the knot with fiance Frank O'Keefe.

She has been battling a serious heart condition since she was five years old and in 1999, while in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin awaiting an operation that gave her only a 30pc chance of survival, she decided she was going through with it – even if she had to do it while in care.

Barbara, from Oldtown, Co Dublin, returned yesterday along with a group of former patients as part of the hospital's, 'Honour Your Heroes' programme.

Messages

The programme allows patients to pass on a message of thanks to staff members for the care they have received.

"I couldn't get better treatment in any other hospital, they definitely look after me. I really think they go the extra mile, they all know me so well," said Ms O'Keefe.

"I got married here and it was a great day. All the ladies in the unit were washing their hair, doing their make-up and everyone was in their best dresses and pyjamas.

"It was totally off the wall, the men were down there shaving and they all came to the church in their wheelchairs and Zimmer frames," she said.

The thank you messages will go on display around the hospital and voluntary donations can be made to the 'Beaumont Hospital Foundation' to fund further patient care initiatives.

Sisters Casey (10) and Bailey Conn (2) were both diagnosed with profound deafness at an early age and the hospital has fitted both girls with cochlear implants that allow them to hear.

Their father, James Conn, said that when Casey was diagnosed, the idea of bringing her in for surgery was daunting.

She was two and a half at the time and it took a month after the implants were fitted for her to actually respond to sound.

"She was facing away from us. I think she might have been watching the TV and one of us called her and she just turned and looked at us," he said.

"That was the very first time and for us it was really emotional. You could see in her face she was puzzled but she wasn't scared, she just had this, 'what's going on here' look on her face."

Mr Conn said the care both daughters have received at Beaumont has been exceptional.

"This is a chance for us to say thanks but it is not enough. It could never be enough for what they have done for our girls," he said.

Irish Independent

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