Sixteen members of Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club have raised a total of €7,197 for the Friends of the Coombe Hospital through their participation in the the recent Dublin City Marathon.
Earlier this year, the club created an online page to assist the charity organisation which was established in 1982 to raise funds to help the development of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, and support its vital research programmes.
The hospital is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of women and infant healthcare in Europe and was chosen following the experience Letterkenny 247 Triathlon Club member, Alan O'Mahony had there.
His son, Eóghan, was born prematurely at 23 weeks in Letterkenny three years ago.
Eóghan's mother, Natasha, takes up the story.
"Miracles come in many forms, shapes and sizes. Eóghan came in the form of a premature baby. He was born black and blue at only 23 weeks," she recalled.
"At 22.29 pm on the 19th of November 2015, Eóghan was born weighing 630 grammes. He was baptised immediately because there was a huge fear he wouldn't last the next few minutes. Eóghan immediately began his fight for survival by fighting for every precious breath.
"The staff at Letterkenny University Hospital put everything they had into Eóghan, to stabilise him and to give him a fighting chance," he added.
After a couple of hours, the news finally arrived that Eóghan was stable.
"It was a miracle. We were taken to see him and nothing on this earth could have prepared us for what we were about to see. Walking to his bedside we were about to witness the smallest human being imaginable - he was the length of a pen. No words could describe the state of our overwhelming emotions.
"Confusion, shock, helplessness all began to set in. We were new parents that had just been cast into a world we never knew existed. Placing our baby fingers in each of Eóghan's tiny hands, he squeezed them. He was letting us know that he knew we were there."
The Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital then agreed to take Eóghan.
"He was stable and ventilated in an incubator. There was hope for Eóghan, but we were reminded constantly that everything can change in a split second. Some premature babies do not even make the journey from Letterkenny to Dublin," Natasha commented.
"Eóghan now growing in this plastic box, an artificial womb, and was relying completely on the staff of NICU ward at the Coombe Hospital.
Each and every one of the staff are like parents to these beautiful premature babies and they care for them as if they are their own children, loving them like they were their own.
"The staff of the Coombe Womens & Infants University hospital went above and beyond the call of duty to not only care for the precious babies in the NICU ward, but also to look after the helpless parents who had started a journey into the unknown.
They could only be described as saints, preforming countless miracles each and every day," she added.
"Eoghan continued his fight for survival, growing against all odds from a tiny little premature to a beautiful happy little man now."
At the end of November, the Letterkenny 24/7 members who completed the 2018 Dublin City Marathon, along with Alan, Natasha and Eóghan, presented a cheque for €7,197 to Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital Director, Ann McIntyre, who is a native of Letterkenny.
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