Couple raise €14,000 for neonatal intensive care units

WITH their journey beginning in Donegal and ending in Dublin, a Letterkenny couple has completed a 122km fundraising walk for the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) units in Letterkenny University Hospital and the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

Raising a whopping €14,400 for the hospitals, Brian Gallagher and Thressa McConnell, decided to raise funds following the loss of their baby girl at just eleven days old.

The pair had their worlds turned upside down when Thressa unexpectedly went into labour at just 24 weeks, giving birth to twin girls, Ella who weighed just 1lb 4oz and Rose 1lb 9oz.


The girls were unable to breathe on their own and had to be transferred to the Coombe immediately, Ella by helicopter and Rose by ambulance.

A few days after the birth, doctors discovered Rose had a bleed on both sides of her brain.
Suffering further medical complications, Rose passed away at just eleven days old.

At the same time, her sister Ella was fighting her own battle and after contracting sepsis she became very ill.

Ella also battled Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that can cause hearing loss, ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) which required laser eye surgery on both eyes and PDA (patent ductus arteriosus) which required heart device closure surgery.

Ella spent 87 days in an incubator being ventilated and had numerous blood and platelet transfusions.
After spending 122 days in NICU in the Coombe, Ella was allowed to go home at 5lbs 14oz.

Ella, now a busy two year old, is doing great and has just started walking.

Ella’s parents, Brian and Thressa decided to walk 122km to represent the number of days she spent in NICU.


Speaking to the Donegal News, her father, Brian Gallagher said they felt it was important to do a fundraiser for both hospitals.

“In total we raised €14,400. We bought three chairs for the NICU in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin which were €10,400 and we donated the remaining €4,000 to the NNU in Letterkenny University Hospital. Overall we didn’t find the walking too bad. We did four or five kilometres on average a day and sometimes if it was bad weather, we’d just do a longer walk at the weekend. Overall, it was fine,” he said.

Presentations were recently made to the both hospitals by the couple and baby Ella.

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