Christmas jumper day to help children

By Mary Dennehy

THE family of a Tallaght toddler who spent his first Christmas in hospital are encouraging schools and companies to wear their Christmas jumper to help raise funds for sick children.

Sarah-Jane and Sean Preston’s son Seán Óg (15 months) spent his first Christmas in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, after their baby boy had open heart surgery at four months old – just four days before Christmas 2018.

CHI and Sean Og 1 compressor

Sean Óg wearing his Christmas jumper

Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin was previously known as Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

According to mam Sarah-Jane, they discovered at the 20-week scan that baby Seán Óg had a congenital heart defect.

“We were completely shocked as we had never heard of it before and we didn’t know how serious it was”, Sarah-Jane said.

“Three days later it was confirmed that our little baby had multiple defects, but we wouldn’t know the full extent until he was born.”

After Seán Óg was born, the team at Crumlin discovered he had eight heart defects, three of which are rare.

After being christened in Intensive Care when he was born, Seán Óg had his first heart surgery when he was just two days old.

“The nurses caring for Seán Óg were absolutely amazing,” Sarah-Jane said.

“They treated him like he was their own and I trusted them 100 per cent, which made leaving him a little more bearable.

“Seán Óg responded really well to the surgery and was allowed home at six days old.

CHI and Sean Og 3 compressor

Seán Óg with his mam Sarah-Jane, dad Sean and sister Fianna

“One of the nurses from ICU came up to the ward before he went to give him one last cuddle, which was so touching.”

Seán Óg was due his next surgery at eight months. However, by Christmas time his little heart was failing, so his operation was brought forward.

At four months old, and just four days before Christmas, Seán Óg had open heart surgery.

While the little lad had to spend Christmas in hospital, he responded really well to surgery and was home within a week.

Remembering how special the staff made her baby boy’s first Christmas, Sarah-Jane said: “Santa visited him and left presents, I was left a big hamper and there were presents waiting for his big sister when she came to visit.

“These are the special moments that stand out and they are facilitated by the incredible fundraisers who give their time and energy to making sure they’re doing all they can for sick children.

“Christmas dinner was also provided in the restaurant, so we could have dinner as a family, which was so important to us and something we are so grateful for.

“Every single staff member from household staff up to consultants made our stay as comfortable and special as it could be.

“The support we received went way beyond the operating theatre and we are so grateful for everything so far.

“Nobody wants to spend Christmas in hospital, but it was such a festive atmosphere that it didn’t feel like we were in hospital at times.

“It’s not just the incredible heart centre that fundraising has supported, it’s the little things too, like a present for our little girl who spent Christmas day in the hospital with her sick brother.”

As they look forward to celebrating Christmas at home this year, the Preston family has encouraged schools and organisations to take part in the children’s hospital’s Christmas Jumper Day.

“We will never ever be able to express our gratitude to CHI at Crumlin, the staff and fundraisers who saved our baby, but we will continue to help out in any way we can,” Sarah-Jane said.

Schools and companies are invited to host a Christmas Jumper Day in aid of CMRF (Children Medical Research Foundation) at Crumlin, so that they can create some magical memories for sick children this Christmas.

Over 150,000 children go through the doors of CHI at Crumlin each year, with one in 100 children in Ireland born with a structural heart defect.

For further details on the Christmas Jumper Day appeal visit www.cmrf.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more and register.

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