EXCLUSIVE BY SEÁN P. FEENY
A NEW fund-raising initiative in aid of a West Donegal baby with a very rare genetic skin condition was launched yesterday (Thursday) morning.
Well-known public figures have given their support to a school project which is raising funds for baby Lucy Gallagher from Maghery who is six months old today and is still at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.
Lucy was born on August 8, weighing 4lb 14 ounces, with a rare genetic skin condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. She is the only one with the condition in Ireland and there are less than 100 world-wide.
Lucy lacks a protein that allows her skin to develop correctly. To try to make up for this missing protein, her body makes too much skin which she can’t shed quickly enough.
This meant she was born with thick, yellow scales – almost like armour – with deep red wounds over her entire body.
This thick skin pulled tightly, causing constrictions. Her eyes, mouth, ears, fingers and toes were most affected. Immediate concerns after her birth were infection due largely to the deep fissures, dehydration, and breathing, because the skin restricts movement in the chest. Students from the Rosses Community School compiled a book entitled Heroes in the Classroom which celebrates teachers who have made a positive impact on students’ lives.
First and transition year students are raising funds for Lucy as she is the daughter of one of their very popular teachers, Ms Carleen Gallagher, who teaches maths and science, and her husband Gary Gallagher.
And so, as well as writing about their own favourite teachers, the students wrote to many celebrities asking them to recall any teachers who inspired them and the replies are included in the book.
The book features a wide range of public figures from sport, politics and even British royalty. It includes Donegal GAA stars Michael Murphy and Patrick McBrearty, Kincasslagh’s own Daniel O’Donnell, Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and author or the book War Horse, Michael Marpugo.
RTÉ presenter Mary Kennedy, who is also featured in the book, officially launched the book at the school’s Ionad Spoirt na Rosann yesterday morning.