Saturday 16 December 2017

‘We never thought we’d see the day’ - Liam (5) who spent first four years in hospital is set to start school

Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A five-year-old boy who spent the first four years of his life in Crumlin Hospital will start to attend a mainstream school tomorrow.

Liam Mac an tSaoi (5) from Clonberne, Co Galway will be starting the Clonberne National School, something his parents never thought would happen when he was born premature at 23 weeks-old.

“We never thought he’d go to a mainstream school. It’s a huge milestone. I was so emotional just buying his uniform, I don’t know what I’ll be like tomorrow,” proud mum Louise told

“He’s starting at the school where I used to work so all the teachers know him and know what they’re taking on.”

Little Liam, who needs 24-hour care, has lived most of his short life in Crumlin hospital.

“When Liam was born at 23-weeks-old he suffered every complication possible,” said Louise.

Liam suffers from a chronic lung disease and the very rare condition phenylketonuria (PKU) which can cause intellectual disability and other serious health problems.

“For us this is such a huge thing. When he was born we were told he wouldn’t amount to much and that we should let him go so many times. In always saw the spark in his eye and knew he was something I’d always hold onto.”

Liam Mac an tSaoi with his parents, Sean and Louise, at their home in Clonberne. Andrew Downes
Liam Mac an tSaoi with his parents, Sean and Louise, at their home in Clonberne. Andrew Downes

Liam attended play-school when he was released from Crumlin but he was afraid of noises.

“He was very sensitive to noises and sound so crying children was his nightmare. He got on great at the play-school though and learned his colours and numbers so we knew he could handle a mainstream school.

“He’s so excited to go to school. He’s been wearing his schoolbag around the house and when we drive up to the school he gets excited.

“It will be his whole world to go to school. He was in isolation in hospital for so long that it will be great for him to be able to make friends.”

Louise said she hopes the other children will also help Liam to reach his milestones.

“Hopefully the other children will encourage him to talk and eat properly. He has a psychological fear of eating so when he sees the other kids eating he might too.

“Liam starting mainstream school is such a big thing for our family. It will give him security, independence and confidence. I hope he makes some great friends for life.”

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