Cork’s youngest “Heroes” join forces with Cork’s Probationer Firefighters to launch “Mercy Heroes”
Some of Cork’s youngest “Heroes”, Noah, Denis, Darragh and Calvin, who are all patients at the Mercy University Hospital, joined Probationer Firefighters from Cork City Fire Brigade for a very special fundraiser and to announce details of “Mercy Heroes 2022” which will take place on Friday, 21st October in aid of the Mercy Kids & Teens Appeal.
On Friday, 16th September, the newest recruits to Cork City Fire Brigade undertook a fundraising mission which saw them do a bucket collection as they pushed and pulled a vintage fire truck through Cork City, finishing at the Mercy University Hospital.
Before they set off from Cork City Fire Station on Anglesea Street, the firefighters gave a tour of the station to Noah, Denis, Darragh and Calvin, who are the faces of “Mercy Heroes” this year. These brave little “heroes” are asking the people of Cork to join them and become a “Mercy Hero” on October 21st and help support the youngest patients at the Mercy Hospital.
Funds raised through “Mercy Heroes” will go towards the Mercy Kids & Teens Appeal and will support services like POONS (Paediatric Oncology Outreach Nursing Service). This service, the only one of its kind in Ireland, allows children with cancer to receive vital treatment in the comfort of their own home, helping to cut back on hospital visits and provide support to families during such a difficult time. POONS has provided immeasurable support for some of Cork’s youngest patients and their families over the last number of years with 45 families using the service in 2021 alone.
One such family is that of Noah O’Gorman from Whitegate, who turns 3 on September 24th. Noah is currently receiving treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) at the Mercy Hospital. He was diagnosed almost 12 months ago, on his second birthday. Speaking about their experience, Noah’s dad, Tristan O’Gorman, said “For boys, the treatment cycle is quite long, and Noah’s treatment doesn't finish until February 2025. Having POONS drastically cuts down on the amount of travel in and out to hospital. As Noah is so young, he is more comfortable getting treated at home and it cuts down on the risk of exposure to more infections in the hospital. For Noah’s mum, Deirdre and me, getting treatment in the community like this helps their family life continue as normally as possible and Noah is a big fan of Peg and Olga, the POONS nurses! They try to normalise the treatment so that Noah isn't affected by it and he can just get on with the business of being a busy two year old boy.”
Speaking about the importance of POONS, Olga Buckley, Paediatric Oncology/ Haematology CNS at The Mercy said “Being able to deliver a home-based option to sick children has helped enhance their quality of life and allowed for some normalisation of family life during cancer treatment. Since Covid hit, it has become absolutely necessary as our young cancer patients are considered within the critically vulnerable group as their treatment, including chemotherapy, causes immunosuppression. POONS helps to cut back on the amount of time these patients need to spend in the hospital and gives them the opportunity to receive their treatment at home.”
In 2021, the Mercy POONS nurses travelled 23,654 kilometres to provide an incredible 550 home visits to families. It costs the Mercy Hospital Foundation €30,000 each year to continue to keep this service mobile.
On October 21st, by participating in “Mercy Heroes”, you can help fund POONS by making a donation online at www.mercyhospitalfoundation.ie, or by joining forces with your friends, family or colleagues to host a coffee morning. Schools around Cork are also being encouraged to join in the fun by holding a Dress Up/Dress Down Day to support these young heroes.
Paschal McCarthy, CEO of the Mercy University Hospital Foundation emphasised how support for campaigns like Mercy Heroes can make such a difference in people’s lives, “For the past nine years, the Mercy Hospital Foundation has proudly provided funding for POONS. We are continually reminded of the impact this service has on families, and why it is essential that we continue to fund and support these very special children and their families. This October, anyone can become a “Mercy Hero”, and any donation, big or small, will help make a huge difference.”
Paschal added “Special thanks to Third Officer Ger Ryan and the Class of 2021/2022 recruits of Cork City Fire Brigade who gave our little “Heroes” the tour of their station and engines; and helped us launch “Mercy Heroes 2022” with their vintage engine push.”
If you would like to become a “Mercy Hero” on Friday, 21st October, sign up at www.mercyhospitalfoundation.ie.