Work begins on first children’s hospice

AFTER six years of fundraising, work on the building of Ireland’s first children’s hospice is under way.

When completed in early 2011, LauraLynn House in Dublin will provide support for more than 300 families each year.

There are about 1,400 children suffering from a terminal condition and up to 400 of them will die each year.

The hospice is being built on the grounds of the Children’s Sunshine Home on the Leopardstown Road.

The cost of the building project is estimated at €11 million but fundraising is ongoing to ensure the viability of the unit.

The Children’s Sunshine Home supports children with life limiting conditions and their families. It supports 72 families through residential/respite and transitional care.

When built the LauraLynn House will offer accommodation for eight children and their families at any one time, as well as supporting families at home.

The project also keeps alive the memory of Jane and Brendan McKenna’s only children, Laura and Lynn.

Laura, who was born with a heart condition, was just four years old when she died in 1999.

And less than two years later, her older sister, Lynn, lost a long battle with leukaemia. She was 15.

The McKennas established the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice Foundation in 2001 so that seriously ill and dying children can receive appropriate care.

Jane said her children’s courage in death had given her the courage to carry on.

“Although nothing will ever be the same again, I take comfort from knowing they are together. But my biggest fear is for them to become a fade memory — so I want to try and keep their spirit alive,” she said.

Jane concentrated on developing the country’s first children’s hospice so that children could be given the best possible death.

“We were lucky that both of our girls were able to die at home, but for many families this isn’t an option and this why a hospice is so badly needed,” she said.

While nothing could ease the pain of losing a child, the right care could give a child a better quality of life, however short, she said.

“It’s about putting life into a child’s day, not days into a child’s life,” she said.

Jane said the new hospice is what Laura and Lynn would have wished for and be truly happy about.

Chief executive of the Children’s Sunshine Home, Philomena Dunne, said the McKennas and Sunshine Home joined forces after realising that they were both working towards the same goal in 2006.

Ms Dunne said the Health Service Executive had been very supportive of the project and they were quite confident that overtime it would secure long term funding.

“We have enough money to build the hospice but would certainly need more money to take it forward,” said Ms Dunne.


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