The Children’s Heartbeat Trust (CHT), has lost its surgery service from the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. But it has, by no means, lost heart.
Surgery has been diverted, in the meantime, to London and Birmingham, with an all-Ireland provision created in the longer term in Dublin.
To help parents who will have to travel with their children, the CHT has provided ‘First Aid Kits’ in memory of Jake Flaherty who died in May 2013, two days after his second birthday.
Jake had Down’s Syndrome, with heart and respiratory complications, and seemed to be improving when he died in hospital – he was the son of Julie and Shane Flaherty.
The ‘First Aid Kits’ are carefully designed ‘Jake’s Ladybird Bags’, which are airplane friendly, in that they can be carried as hand luggage on board planes heading for London and Birmingham. They will contain the essentials for parents whose children are called in an emergency.
They arrived in Portadown this week, and there to promote and publicise them were Julie Flaherty, Loughgall woman Julie Greenaway whose son Lewis has undergone surgery, their friend Lyndsey Brogan, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Sarah Quinlan, CEO of the Trust.
Said Julie Flaherty, “Jake’s Ladybird Bags contain essential toiletries, provisions – like teabags, coffee and snacks – and an information pack is provided by the Children’s Heartbeat Trust. The ethos is to provide little things that are easy to forget, hard to get in hospital, or just come in really handy.
“Thanks to the CHT and this initiative, mums and dads will receive Jake’s Ladybird Bag, and realise that someone cares.”
The need is estimated at 150 bags a year, and they were designed – along with special ballpoint pens and note books – by Ciera Eakin of Graceland in Carn.
Said Sarah Quinlan, “It’s a superb concept and the CHT supports the effort all the way.”
Mrs Dobson commented, “I made friends with Julie Flaherty from the start of Jake’s all-too-shot young life. I admire her courage all the way and we all feel a profound sense of loss at Jake’s passing. The bags are a fitting tribute to him, for he was a loving and loved child.”