Fund for hero dad’s medical care

Rob Laffan with his daughter, Sadie.

An online fundraising page has been set up to raise funds for the medical care of an inspirational dad who created an app to help his daughter who is non-verbal to communicate.

Rob Laffan, whose seven-year-old daughter, Sadie, who has autism, inspired

the creation of TppyTalk, “suffered a serious head trauma and brain injury while attending a conference in the USA”, according to a gofundme.com page set up to raise funds for Mr Laffan’s medical care and return home.

“He’s now stable but the severity of the injury means he needs to be monitored constantly and may yet need surgery,” it states.

“Rob has a long road to recovery ahead, and will need to stay in the States for at least a month more, and will need rehabilitation therapy for some time.

“Rob’s wife Emily is with him, and his daughters Megan and Sadie are in Ireland with family. Sadie has severe autism and needs around-the-clock care, and her condition inspired Rob’s TippyTalk system of communication for the non-verbal.”

“Sadie needs her parents home so please help with whatever you can spare.”

In its first 11 hours 41 people have donated more than $1,000 (€850) to the ‘Help Rob Laffan Get Treated & Home’ fund, which has a target of $5,000 (€4,250).

The funding page is generating a steady stream of donations and well wishes.

A message from Elaine Salmon read: “Thinking of you all Emily. Hope Rob makes a speedy recovery xx.”

Angellna O’Neill said: “Get well soon pal. Hope you and Emily get home soon to your lovely family xxxx.”

Brendan Miller added: “Hope Rob is back to full health and home soon.”

Before establishing TippyTalk, Mr Laffan was a pharmaceutical sales representative until he lost his job in the recession in 2010.

He returned to college in 2012 and graduated with a degree in robotics and automation from Limerick Institute of Technology.

TippyTalk has been downloaded tens of thousands of times in more than 70 countries worldwide, after its launch in 2016.

TippyTalk allows a person with a verbal disability to communicate by translating pictures into text messages, which are then sent to a family member or caregivers phone.

This allows the person who is non-verbal to communicate and express a desire, want, need or feeling.

Mr Laffan has won a number of awards in recent years, including being named Enterprise Ireland student entrepreneur of the year award in 2015, as well as the winner of the Engineers Ireland Innovation student of the year 2015.

Mr Laffan also received the International Society of Automation individual innovation award in 2014.

To donate, visit the website gofundme.com and search for ‘Help Rob Laffan Get Treated & Home’.


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