independent

Sunday 27 May 2018

Family appeals for help to bring little baby Michael home to Bray

Kirsty McKenna, Michael Meredith, and baby Michael
Kirsty McKenna, Michael Meredith, and baby Michael

Mary Fogarty

A Bray family is appealing for help to bring their baby home.

Baby Michael is three months old and was born with multiple abnormalities. Despite his tough start, Michael's medical team have said that he can now go home to his family but the house needs significant work to prepare for his arrival.

'He is a little fighter,' said Kirsty McKenna, who lives at Ballywaltrim Cottages in Bray with her partner Michael and their three older children, two of whom have special needs.

One of their children was born with a tumour which blocks his nostril and has caused brain damage, and another has autism.

'When I first became pregnant with Michael, my partner and I were delighted. We were so excited but unfortunately a couple of weeks into our pregnancy, we lost one of our twins and, from there, the complications just continued,' said Kirsty.

She lost a huge amount of blood throughout the pregnancy and was rushed to Holles Street a number of times.

'We tried to put some positivity back into the pregnancy by going for a private scan in the Bray clinic and then my partner would later on that night do a gender reveal - my mother and father-in-law came along as well as all of our children. Our hopes of putting the positive back were shattered.'

Severe abnormalities and defects were detected at the scan, with multiple markers indicating that the baby's life could be at risk and he may be disabled.

'We cried our hearts out at the clinic. We weren't charged at the clinic, she gave me loads of lovely photos and videos of our precious baby and said she was writing a letter and sending her findings to Holles Street. From there, we had multiple appointments every week with scans every week, and every appointment announced new findings.'

Michael had a severe heart condition, dial atrial talipes, and a short left bowed femur.

Michael was due on Kirsty's birthday, August 28, but her waters broke on August 6.

'I was panicked as the risk of him coming early would be devastating,' she said.

Her labour started in the early hours of August 8. It was a quick birth but baby Michael was dark blue and he wasn't breathing.

Kirsty feared that the midwives were giving up, until one lady called Breda came in and walked over to Michael and started CPR.

'I heard her say "not today, not on my shift",' said Kirsty. 'This woman is my hero as without her Michael wouldn't be here today. She performed suction to rid the fluids and I heard the smallest cry - he was breathing.'

Dad Michael got to hold the baby for a few seconds before he was rushed to re-suss. Kirsty's mother-in-law wheeled her down to see him a short time later.

'He was being examined and poked at with needles and tests. He was screaming. It was horrible but it had to be done.'

The tiny baby weighed only two kilos.

'I marvelled at him. I loved him so much already,' she said.

Doctors discovered more abnormalities and a critical care ambulance came to transfer baby Michael to Crumlin Children's Hospital. Kirsty was very anxious as she knew she could lose her tiny baby at any moment and she wanted to be with him if she did.

'I sat on the kerb in my wheelchair outside Holles Street, looking at my baby in his incubator.'

A team was waiting for Michael at the high dependency unit in Crumlin.

'I remember thinking: he's so strong,' said Kirsty. 'He was transferred to the heart centre and he was doing great. He was stable and our hope was building.'

That night though, Kirsty and Michael thought they would lose their baby when he had trouble breathing and needed CPR. He had an upper airway obstruction due to his jaw being too small and the tongue collapsing.

He had a tracheotomy. He's had multiple blood transfusions, was in intensive care for weeks, and was only recently transferred back to the airway ward. Michael awaits open heart surgery and corrective surgery to his leg but his parents have been told to start preparing their house as he will soon be ready to come home.

They are doing tracheotomy training and intensive care training with the hospital.

Back home in Bray, a number of modifications need to be made to baby Michael's room. The flooring and electrics need to be done in his room, including installing plug sockets midway up the wall for medical machines. As well, as regular painting and decorating in the room, the windows must be sealed, a glass door and sink must be installed, the curtains must be replaced with blinds and there can be no carpets.

The family must also install an air purification device and an air humidifier and get their bathroom and kitchen tiled.

They have a 'Go Fund Me' page entitled 'Bringing Baby Michael Home', with a goal of €3,000, but Kirsty said that this may not even be enough. She said they would be grateful for any donation, big or small, and are hoping that, with the goodwill of the community, they will soon be able to bring their new baby home to Bray.

Bray People

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