Sinead and Oisin Boyle were celebrated as the first parent and baby from Donegal to travel on the new Northwest BUMBLEance service today.
Nine-month-old Oisin Boyle from Glenties was the first special ‘King Bee’ from the county to be taken on the Children’s Ambulance Service. Little Oisin, who has a brain disorder, travelled from Donegal to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and was treated like a king throughout the trip.
It was a very early start for the little boy and his mother Sinead as they left Glenties at 5am. Oisin suffers from severe seizures following a brain injury which would normally make this long journey for Oisin and mum Sinead a stressful and expensive experience.
BUMBLEance came to Sinead’s rescue just days before she needed to bring Oisin to his appointment.
“My brother was supposed to drive us but he had to go away to work. I messaged the BUMBLEance page on Facebook and they got back to me in about 10 minutes,” Sinead told Donegal Woman.
With the new Northwest service ready to directly serve Donegal, the BUMBLEance team were only too happy to help out.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders. I was so happy they got back to me.”
“The last time I went down to Dublin it would have been €250 in a taxi. I can’t take Oisin on the bus because the appointment is too early in the morning.”
Today’s trip was a welcome relief for the family. All Sinead and Oisin had to do was board the ambulance and let the driver team take care of all their needs.
“It’s just great, it’s like home. There’s a TV and everything there, Oisin was very content the whole way down,” Sinead said.
Little Oisin suffered brain injuries at birth, and must still be cared for like a newborn baby, Sinead said.
“When I was pregnant with Oisin everything was fine until a couple of hours before the birth. He was getting no oxygen to his brain and got injuring, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I was told he may not ever be able to walk or talk. We don’t know yet,” she said.
Sinead has had to travel to Dublin up to seven times since Oisin was born.
“It is very hard. I only found out about BUMBLEance after Christmas. If I knew about it a long time ago it would have been half the battle.”
Today, the mum and baby were greeted by driver Aiden Thompson from Donegal and brought to Crumlin for their appointment after 9am and, after an hour, were transported home again in good time.
Sinead has another son aged 12, and caring for Oisin has become a full-time role. This new service will be a huge help for her in the future, which is still uncertain for her and her baby. She has been invited to call charity founder Tony Heffernan and the team whenever she needs them next.
The brand new North West BUMBLEance is the fifth vehicle in the BUMBLEance fleet. After many fundraisers across Donegal and beyond, kind-hearted donators raised enough funds to contribute to the purchase and kit-out of a new 171 Mercedes.
This new BUMBLEance is based in Donegal to serve the sick children of the Northwest. It went into service two weeks earlier than planned and has been looking after children from other counties in recent days.
Speaking about the new service, Tony Heffernan the founder of BUMBLEance told Donegal Woman; “I am thrilled that the Northwest & Donegal is getting the first of several new regional based BUMBLEance services.
“The isolation of living in Donegal and other counties of the Northwest and the stress and challenges of parents and sick children who must travel to Dublin to access services will be greatly reduced by the BUMBLEance experience”
Mr Heffernan added that the charity will be operating the vehicle itself and will be initially rolling out a 40 to 60 hours a week service from May 2017. In addition, the charity will be creating two new jobs in the Northwest and has already employed its first new team member, Aiden Thompson from Donegal.
Today was a day of celebration for the BUMBLEance team as they welcomed the first of a planned series of regionally based vehicles that will supplement the charity’s existing national service fleet. The BUMBLEance fleet includes critical care and clinical intervention services to help any children who may require additional, specialist care while in transit.
The new 171 Mercedes based vehicle has been adapted to cater for the needs of both disabled and seriously ill children who require transportation to and from specialist treatment centres, pre and post-surgical appointments, respite and hospice trips. The new BUMBLEance service, the Children’s Chemo Cab, will also allow for children to be carried to and from Crumlin Children’s Hospital for Chemotherapy treatment.
The BUMBLEance is owned by the Saoirse Foundation and is named after the daughter of Mary and Tony Heffernan, who founded the organisation is 2010. Saoirse died in January 2011 at the age of five from the fatal and rare conditions Batten disease. Her only sibling, Liam, also had Batten Disease and died on the couples Wedding Anniversary, on May 4th in 2014 also aged 5.
This week is an emotional time for the family as they remember their son Liam’s Angel Trip on the BUMBLEance three years ago.
The Heffernan’s have no other children and put their energy into helping others who are following down a similar road to the one they travelled. Mary and Tony Heffernan were awarded the Pride of Ireland Award and the People of the Year awards in 2014.
The charity is seeking the support of corporates, the public and local businesses in the Northwest to get behind the new initiative to help ensure that the service can become sustainable. The charity provides all of its services for free and is totally reliant on the generosity of others to operate the service.
To find out how you can help BUMBLEance change the lives of sick children in Donegal, visit www.bumbleance.com