A Lurgan mother’s intense grief has spurred her and her family to raise more than £13k since her baby son tragically died.
Shauna Heaney has been struggling to cope with the death of her baby son Ethan just over two years ago but has been sustained by relentless fundraising to help the Royal Hospital for Sick Children where her son passed away.
He had been diagnosed with a rare condition, congenital diaphragmatic hernia. He also had spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
Despite having been given only a 10% chance of surviving delivery Ethan was born on July 2. In the days following he underwent three major operations and at points had shown positive signs, but there were further complications including a blood clot and sepsis. In the end the little boy could fight no longer and he passed away on August 25.
Shauna had been offered a termination but that was never an option for her. “That’s God’s decision.”
So poorly, her wee baby only survived seven precious weeks and in those weeks, Shauna rarely left Ethan’s side. “I got to hold him three times. Anthony got to hold him once and that was the day before he died.
She said: “When you hear about everything that he was battling against you picture this wee boy in a comatose state. Ethan wasn’t like that at all.
“When you look past the tubes he was just like any other wee baby. He knew you were in the room, he followed you with his eyes. He was always smiling.”
His mother said: “We had him for seven weeks and five days. He was here for a reason.”
Since his death, Shauna has struggled with grief but tried to channel her energies into raising much needed funds and supplies for the hospital where her little boy died. “We have been trying to do what we can to fundraise for the Royal Children’s hospital charity, Helping Hand,” she said.
“To date we have raised approximately £13,000 for the hospital. This has been raised through various events including a sponsored climb up Slieve Donard, charity nights, raffles, bake sales and we also had a very generous donation on behalf of the charity summer football league held at Lord Lurgan Memorial Park.
“As a family we can’t stress enough how much we truly appreciate all the support we have had from right across the community.
“This year we are trying to organize a Christmas toy appeal, to donate toys, gifts and essential items for children and families who face Christmas in hospital.
“We are asking people if they would be willing to buy an extra gift or essential item (toiletries, nappies etc) to be packed up and delivered to the children’s hospital around December 20,” she said.
“We also have a local kiddies play area - Funky Monkeys - prepared to support us by letting us use their premises as a drop off point for anyone who would be willing to donate. For us as a family, fundraising and doing what we can to give a little back to the hospital and the amazing medical team they have, gives us some comfort in our son’s passing - that he is in some way is helping others.
“We also plan to have a Christmas raffle to help bring in some vital funds.”
However this will be the last time for a while the family will be doing any fundraising.
Shauna and her husband Anthony have three other children Erin (17) Cillian (14) and Emma (11) and have been totally immersed in fundraising since Ethan’s passing.
“I had put grief on the back burner and together as a family we worked together to fund raise for the hospital,” said the 35-year-old mum.
“We went round knocking doors to sell tickets and all sorts of fundraising but when that all ended and we tried to get back to normal, it kind of hits you,” she said.
With the help of SANDS - a charity which helps families cope with still birth and neo natal deaths - Shauna said they are working to find a way forward.
“They have been a great help and we are hoping to do more things as a family with their help. It has been really difficult these past two years.
“This will be our last fundraiser and we are hoping to be able to put a smile on other children’s faces,” she said.
If you would like to help or donate, go to Facebook page www.facebook.com/inmemoryofethanheaney