Bumbleance: Keeping the buzz going for seriously ill kids

Bumbleance: Keeping the buzz going for seriously ill kids
A file photo of Noah Quish, Limerick who had open heart surgery in March, photographed at home this week with dad John Joe, Leah(5) and mum Una. Photograph Liam Burke

TO see Noah Quish running around the backyard of his Co Limerick home you’d think there was nothing wrong with him, says his mum, Una.

Yet three-year-old Noah has a range of serious conditions: rare chromosome deletion, scoliosis, heart condition and Chiari brain malformation. At five months, suffering from severe laryngomalacia (causing airway blockage), he had surgery to shave away part of his larynx. He may yet have to undergo serious brain and spinal surgery.

“He has sleep apnoea, he aspirates and he’s completely tube-fed,” explains mum-of-two Una – her daughter, Leah is aged seven. 

Noah, who’s non-verbal, vomits a lot when he gets over-excited, laughs too much or runs. “We don’t know why,” says Una.

So when Noah had to visit Temple Street Children’s Hospital last year, Una and husband John Joe were grateful for Bumbleance. The world’s first fully interactive, state-of-the-art children’s national ambulance service, it’s free and available for critically and seriously ill children who need transportation from their home to children’s hospitals/hospices/national treatment centres/respite centres.

With John Joe at work and Leah at school – if it hadn’t been for Bumbleance – Una would have been alone driving Noah to Dublin and she’d have had to stop six or seven times on the way because of her little boy’s vomiting. “He has a habit of choking on it and I’d be panicking, trying to pull in and park. It’d be a nightmare, stopping at a garage to clean him up and dress him – and then it could happen again. It was such a great relief to have Bumbleance.

“I could concentrate on caring for Noah and the paramedics were so funny, the laughs they had with him and they put on movies for him. It kept him calm before his appointment – he wasn’t anxious going in.”

Bumbleance is part of The Saoirse Foundation, founded by Tony and Mary Heffernan in 2010 after their daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with rare, fatal neurological condition Batten Disease. Saoirse passed away aged five and a half in January 2011. Tragically, her brother, Liam, was also diagnosed with Batten Disease and died when he was almost six years old.

Bumbleance is 100% reliant on public support/fundraising and Tony Heffernan says the impact of Covid-19 has almost annihilated the charity’s income streams.

People are asked to fire up their barbeque this month and text BUZZ to 50300 to donate €4 to help keep Bumbleance wheels turning.

“With everyone saving money on diesel/petrol, a donation to Bumbleance is such a worthy cause and so appreciated by families,” says Una.

Angel Trips

*Bumbleance continues to work tirelessly during the pandemic.

*It has made over 11,000 trips nationwide since setting up and hundreds of families avail of its free services.

*Bumbleance also provides a unique and specialised service through its end-of-life Angel Trips, designed for a child in palliative care making his/her final journey.

*The Heffernans say Bumbleance is their children’s legacy – any funds raised by the public will allow them help many other children across Ireland.

*Info/donations at www.bumbleance.com; also visit www.saoirsefoundation.com

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