A CORK mother, whose twins spent the first three months of their lives in the Neonatal unit in Cork University Maternity Hospital, wants to help other premature babies by raising funds for the unit.
Abby and Seamus O’Leary from Ballymakeera recently celebrated the first birthday of their beautiful and healthy twins.
Abimay and Gerard were born on February 25th, 2016. Gerard weighed only 1lb 11oz while Abimay was 2lb 6oz when they came into the world over three months early.
Due to complications with the pregnancy and fears that baby Gerard would not make it, a decision was taken to induce Abby at just 28 weeks.
‘We were told at 25 weeks that Gerard may not make it so for the next three weeks I went for a scan twice a week to see was he and his twin both alive,’ said Abby. ‘It was such a traumatic and difficult time. We didn’t know what would happen.’ Following their birth, the twins were immediately rushed to the neonatal unit at Cork University Hospital. ‘It was terrifying when they were born. They were so small and we didn’t even know if they would survive,’ she recalled.
The twins, who both suffered from heart conditions and underdeveloped lungs, remained in the unit for almost three months before they came home.
During that time Abby and her husband, Seamus, who also have a 14-year old daughter, Monica, spent every moment with the new additions to their family.
Abimay was allowed home after 10 weeks and Gerard after 13 weeks.
Last week the twins, who have both undergone heart surgery, celebrated their first birthday and their parents are now looking forward to a bright future.
Having seen first-hand the care at the neonatal unit, the couple want to give something back, to say thanks for all the help they received.
This week they have launched ‘Tiny Steps for Preemie Babies’ which is a 5k and 10k fun run at the Top of Coom pub on Sunday, March 19th at 12pm.
There are two routes – a 5k and 10k both starting at the Top of Coom Bar and crossing the border from Kerry into Cork and back again. The start and finish line will be at the Top of Coom where refreshments will be served afterwards.
‘We wanted to do something special to say thanks for all the support the neonatal unit gave us back. We were lucky to have such wonderful care for our twins and we want other families to get the same help and support we did,’ Abby said. ‘We can’t thank CUMH enough for all the help they gave us and we are hoping that by raising funds we can show how grateful we are.’
‘It is so frightening with your babies are so small but the staff and care at the neonatal unit made it so much easier and now we can help other parents.’ The neonatal unit at CUMH is used by both Cork and Kerry parents.
The race will be officially timed and t-shirts will also be available. The event is open to walkers, joggers and runners and even babies in buggies.
Registration is €20 for adults, €10 for 10-18 year olds and u10s are free unless they would like a T-shirt, for which the entry fee is €10.
See Tiny Steps for Preemie Babies on Facebook, for more.