Tuesday 22 January 2019

Girl (7) with rare illness donates her hair to raise almost €1,000 for sick children

Megan O'Leary grew her hair for seven months and then donated it to charity.
Megan O'Leary grew her hair for seven months and then donated it to charity.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A seven year-old girl has donated her hair to raise almost €1,000 for sick children in Crumlin hospital.

Megan O’Leary (7) from Wicklow town, has a one-in-a-million auto-inflammatory disease called Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO).

Last June, she got severe pains in her hips while she was at a summer athletics camp. The pain gradually spread to her ankles, and she was eventually hospitalised with a serious infection in her bones.

She spent her seventh birthday in hospital last September.

Her proud mum Judy Brock told Independent.ie that while Megan was in Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, she was deeply affected when she saw children who lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatment.

Megan herself, who hated the experience of having her hair brushed, decided she would cut her hair and fundraise for life-saving equipment at the hospital.

“She came up with the idea of fundraising from her own experience of being sick,” Judy said.

“She saw little girls with no hair. She realised they must have had chemo, and she decided she wanted to donate her hair to those little girls.”

“I told her about the Princess Trust and she said she’d donate her hair, but she didn’t have long enough hair at the time.

The UK's Little Princess Trust provides real hair wigs free of charge to children and young adults up to the age of 24, who have sadly lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.

For the next seven months, Megan grew her hair with the aim of raising funds. Tomorrow she will present a cheque of €935 to Crumlin’s Children’s Medical and Research Foundation (CMRF) after she herself undergoes an MRI scan.

“She’s most excited about handing the money over because she knows how important it is and where it’s going. She collected most of the money via iDonate.”

“Every time someone would donate we’d tell her and she’d write a thank you message back.”

“She was very excited on the day [she got her hair cut] - she was going around telling everyone.”

“Now that it’s cut, I don’t think she’s fully realised what a huge achievement it is, especially for someone so young.”

“I’m so proud of how much empathy and compassion she has. She said she wanted to help other sick children who were sicker than she was.”

Megan's time in Crumlin hospital had a huge impact on her, Judy said, and she made friends with her fellow patients.

“I think her time in hospital was quite impactful on her. She was really sick for the first week and the second week it was all about tests. Her little freddies (catheters) kept collapsing and she kept having to get new ones.”

“The nurses were so lovely to her and the doctors were really funny with her. They made her laugh. She’s happy to be home but she was really well looked after in Crumlin and she hasn’t forgotten it.”

Judy added: “We’ll never forget how kind the staff were. She loved the playroom, she loved the little girl she made friends with, and she still talks about the nurses – they were all really good to her.”

“She was so worried, she’s one of life’s worriers. The play therapists were wonderful with Megan. They are amazing at what they do and they help take a bit of worry off the children. That’s one of the reasons why CMRF Crumlin means so much to us both.”

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