Sunday 26 January 2020

Mum forced to spend special day apart from her sick child

Donal O'Connor with twin sons, Tadhg (left) and Sergio, at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, with a card for mum Rosa who was forced to spend Mother's Day apart from Sergio yesterday
Donal O'Connor with twin sons, Tadhg (left) and Sergio, at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, with a card for mum Rosa who was forced to spend Mother's Day apart from Sergio yesterday

Ralph Riegel

A YOUNG mum was left heartbroken yesterday after a chest infection meant she couldn't spend Mother's Day with one of her twin sons, who is preparing for marathon surgery in the US.

Rosa O'Connor was unable to spend the day as planned, with her little son Sergio at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Dublin, amid fears her infection could prove contagious.

She said she hoped that next year she would be able to spend Mother's Day at home with Sergio and his twin brother, Tadhg.

Sergio and dad Donal had arranged a special Mother's Day card at the Crumlin hospital to thank Rosa for her devoted bedside vigils since the little boy was born on March 5 last year.


Sergio was born with a rare condition that has left him with an incomplete oesophagus, the tube linking his mouth to his stomach. To prevent his trachea from collapsing, he has had to be fed via a peg directly into his stomach.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken -- but we just couldn't take a chance," Rosa told the Irish Independent yesterday.

Sergio has been in the hospital since birth and has only left three times in the first year of his life, for only three hours each time. He also had to be accompanied by an intensive care nurse. Because of his condition, he requires constant ventilation.

Donal said that while Rosa's chest infection had wrecked their Mother's Day plans, the family's entire focus was now on getting Sergio to the US for his life-changing operation.

"It is a shame that Rosa couldn't come to the hospital and spend the day with Sergio. But I'll bring the card from Sergio to her and, hopefully, we'll all be able to spend Mother's Day at home together next year," Donal said yesterday afternoon at the hospital.

Sergio and Tadhg are Rosa and Donal's first children -- and they now face spending between three and six months in the US after Sergio undergoes surgery to repair his oesophagus in a top Boston hospital.

Boston University Children's Hospital is one of only a handful of facilities in the world that undertakes the painstaking procedure, which can last for six to eight hours.

Sergio will effectively be given a re-built oesophagus.

"All we are waiting on is a phone call -- we're ready to leave once we get the go-ahead," said Donal.

After the procedure, Sergio will require weeks and possibly months of rehabilitation.

The HSE has agreed to fund the Boston operation and the Government has agreed to provide the Air Corps jet to transfer Sergio to the US.

However, the O'Connor family still have to raise €100,000 as their contribution toward the cost of the procedure, to pay for the daunting costs of staying in Boston for up to six months and bringing Sergio back to the US for check-up exams.

Donal and Rosa are committed to staying by Sergio's side in the US -- while Tadhg will stay, at least for a time, with their family back in Dublin.

It can cost up to €1,000 a week to stay in Boston -- though Donal admitted they had been "absolutely overwhelmed" with public support for Sergio's plight. Donal -- from a family of well-known traditional musicians -- has been inundated with offers of fundraising events.

A special concert in aid of Sergio proved a sell-out success in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, last night, while the little boy's plight was mentioned from the stage during a concert by the Chieftains in Boston last weekend.

Donations can be made to the Sergio O'Connor Fund, Bank of Ireland, Killester, Dublin, Sort Code 90-05-94, A/C No 95647682 or Sergio O'Connor Fund, Mitchelstown Credit Union, Co Cork, A/C No 26389E.

Irish Independent

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