The public have come to the aid of a young couple desperate for money to pay for a passport and travel costs for their terminally ill child.
Rico Kelly’s family were told he needs a passport before he can travel to the UK for a life-saving heart transplant.
The surgery could happen at any time if an organ match is found.
Shocked by his family’s appeal on Monday for €31 to buy the baby passport, a number of people pledged donations yesterday.
Mother-of-four Michelle Bowles, from Kanturk, Co Cork, donated €150 to the family.
“When I read the story I thought the situation for that young couple and their baby was just diabolical.
“It’s really sad. The €150 will surely pay for the baby’s passport and help them out too,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it. They’ve been worrying about trying to get enough money together to buy passports and the baby needs a heart transplant.”
She added: “Anything they get will help them because they are going to have to travel to the UK with their baby and stay with him for as long as it takes. They have to be with their baby.”
Another Corkwoman who also donated €150, said she was “disgusted” that the Passport Service was looking for €31 for the child’s passport despite the family’s plight.
The mother of one said: “It’s disgusting what’s going on in this country. I can’t get my head around it. The baby’s passport fee should be waived immediately.
“The last thing that family needs is to worry about scraping together cash to buy their ill baby a passport. All their focus should be on baby Rico. It’s perverted.
“It just infuriated me, the fact Rico’s parents had to go to the papers, and then I’m reading in the newspapers about hospital bosses getting private top ups on their high salaries. Disgusting.”
Rico, who is nine weeks old, was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition five weeks ago. He is currently breathing with the aid of a machine in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin. His father Patrick, aged 20, from Abbeyfeale in Co Limerick, said on Monday he couldn’t afford the €31 plus travel and relocation costs. He was delighted when he heard about the donations.
“It’s great news,” he said.
Patrick, who is unemployed and in receipt of disability allowance added: “We really appreciate it. We’d like to thank everyone who has been helping us.”
He said his family were hoping to organise a coffee morning to help raise funds for travel and relocation costs for him and Rico’s mother, 22-year-old Mary Theresa O’Brien, when and if a heart becomes available for their son.
Rico was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy after he suddenly stopped breathing at his grandparents’ home.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said: “We have been in contact with Mr Kelly, and arrangements have been made for the application for the passport of Rico and his parents.
“In terms of passport fees for children, for normal applications through the counter a three-year passport costing €31 is available to infants under three years of age.
“In the very limited circumstances of a genuine emergency where the medical needs of a newborn child necessitates travel from a hospital in Ireland to a hospital abroad for urgent treatment, every effort is made by the Passport Service to facilitate this travel. We deal with approximately five cases of this type every year and issue emergency travel certificates free of charge in these cases.”
* A bank account has been set up at Bank of Ireland, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. Account number 25426307, sort code 904130.
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