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Friday 20 September 2019

'We were told to be prepared for a stillbirth and it was devastating' - mum praises medics for saving her baby's life

Sarah Doyle and her son Daniel
Sarah Doyle and her son Daniel
Sarah Doyle's son Daniel
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

A mother-of-three has praised the "real-life heroes" at Crumlin Children's Hospital for saving her baby boy's life.

Sarah Doyle from Kerry said she is so proud of little Daniel and the incredible journey he has made - after staff had warned her that he might not survive at all.

Sarah said that she had to move to Dublin before Daniel was born, because there wasn't sufficient facilities for him in Tralee, Co Kerry and because she had a high risk pregnancy.

She said she will never forget the moment she was told her son could possibly die because of lung cysts.

“I was so excited for my gender scan,” Sarah said. “I could hardly wait to find out if it was a boy or a girl, but at the next appointment I remember the room going silent.

"I knew we were in trouble. My little baby had a condition called congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM). One of Daniel’s lungs hadn’t developed properly and air-filled cysts had developed in its place.”

Sarah Doyle's son Daniel
Sarah Doyle's son Daniel

She said that she spent the two and a half months before Daniel’s birth in Dublin because he would need to be close to Crumlin when he was born.

“I had to leave my five and two year old daughters and my husband. It was so scary and lonely," she said.

"I missed their birthdays and Christmas, but we had no choice. There wasn’t a single night when I didn’t tell my bump to hang in there, that he was already so loved and had so many people waiting to meet him.

“We were told to be prepared for a possible stillbirth and it was devastating. Trying to digest that news was awful.

Sarah Doyle's son Daniel
Sarah Doyle's son Daniel

"It was even worse telling my close friends and family. I could barely make it to the end of the sentence without bursting into tears.

"There was no telling if Daniel would be able to breath on his own until he was born.

"His heart rate went very high and I had to have an emergency caesarean section. My husband was on his way but I knew he wasn’t going to make it on time. It was terrifying to be on my own."

But she said that she was surrounded by incredibly supportive medical staff who

"The room was filled with people and when Daniel was born kicking and screaming they erupted into cheering and clapping!" she said.

"It was like having the Kerry team in the delivery room with me.

"He was breathing on his own, our little fighter."

Sarah said that Daniel was doing well until his six week check-up back in the Coombe.

"His x-ray showed that the tumours in his lung were so big that they’d pushed his heart to the right side of his body, under his armpit," she said.

"They were compressing the main veins to his heart and we had to get him back to Crumlin immediately.

"He had the tumours removed on February 23 this year, when he was just over six weeks old. It went so well and three weeks after that we were finally on our way home to Kerry with our beautiful, healthy little baby.

"The pathology results came back and it was type 1 non-malignant. It was the most enormous relief of my life.

"They got it all out during surgery and said there would be no further effects. He was in the clear.

"I was in shock. We had been through so much in those few months and I was so excited to get home to our family."

"I couldn’t believe someone so tiny could go through so much. I never left Daniel’s side and I’m so proud of him," she added.

Sarah said that consultant surgeon Mr Jonathan McGuinness is "a superhero in our house".

"He truly is one of life’s gentlemen and, without doubt, he saved my son’s life," she said.

"Prof Paul McNally was so thorough and there for us whenever we needed him. Dr Gavin Kane was also an amazing doctor who took time to answer all my questions, and Gale was a very special staff nurse.

"She put a smile on our faces through the tears, and for that I will never forget her.

"I can’t thank the team at Crumlin enough for saving Daniel’s life. They are all real-life heroes. Thank God for Crumlin and the amazing people that work there. They will always hold a special place in our hearts. Always.”

Sarah Doyle and Adrian O’Connor, Daniel’s parents, are calling for public donations to help some of Ireland’s sickest children. Visit

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