A woman who has had the most premature babies in Ireland is raising funds for a neonatal unit.
Jacqui O’Shaughnessy – whose seven children were all born before their due date – last year won a Mum Of The Year award for performing CPR on her youngest.
Her children range in age from 10 years to just over 12 months but she is making time to recognise the work of nurses and doctors who have cared for them in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
She said: “The NICU in the Lourdes cared for my most premature babies. From the word go they were exceptional.”
With her twin boys, now aged six, Jacqui said she had an emergency c-section “due to a placental haemorrhage and they were delivered under General Anaesthetic”.
She added: “I was admitted to the high-dependency unit due to blood loss but as any parent can understand I was distraught and worried when I came round from the anaesthetic and we were told the next 24 hours were critical.
“The staff wheeled my bed into intensive care to see the boys and if anyone knows the ICU in the neonatal unit they are tight for space and that moment when I saw them, meant the world to me.
“Not only do the staff look after the babies they also have the parents to care for to ensure they understand what is happening. If they think you are not coping they make extra time to reassure you.”
Jacqui and husband Mark had their first “preemie” Abigail, 10, who was born four weeks early, then seven-year-old twins Ronan and Emma who arrived five weeks before their due date followed by six-year-old twins Aaron and Ryan who were born at 29 weeks.
Then came Sophie, four, who was six weeks early and their youngest, one-year-old Alex, was seven weeks early.
Last year Jacqui won Boots Maternity & Infant Mum Of The Year award for her quick thinking in saving baby Alex’s life.
She said: “His lungs had filled with fluid that was compromising his breathing and he went downhill quickly.
“It was the day of the really bad floods. We could not get out and medical staff could not get to us.
“Alex stopped breathing and I had to perform CPR until help arrived in the form of my brother-in-law who had a raised-up jeep,
“He raced us straight to A&E in the Lourdes Hospital where Alex was ventilated and transferred to Temple
Street Intensive Care Unit.
“I thought I had lost him that night. He was a deathly colour and so, so cold. To my dying day I will never forget it.”
Jacqui and Mark, who live in Termonfeckin, Co Louth, wanted to do something to recognise the work of Lourdes’ neonatal staff
Jacqui said: “We support charities like the Bikers Ride Out for Prems which raises money to buy vital life-saving equipment.
“These bikers have all been effected by premature birth and not all of them have had positive outcomes yet they do so much work for the units.”
“They cover 1,500km over three days delivering medical equipment to nine neonatal units valued at more than €18,000.”
Since the Bikers began their annual Ride Out, they have raised €190,000 and recently bought an incubator worth €45,000 for the Rotunda Hospital.
If you want to become a volunteer or join our cause, please send us a message here