Interactive ambulance offer for twins’ hospital journey

Maya and Zoe Murnane

The man who established the world’s first interactive ambulance service for sick children has offered to transport twins born with a rare life-threatening condition to London for a vital procedure.

Tony Heffernan, whose daughter Saoirse died from Batten disease in Jan 2011, and whose son Liam is in the final stages of the incurable disease, confirmed last night that his BUMBLEance service is on standby to drive little Maya and Zoe Murnane and their mum Audrey from their home in Cork to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for their Dec 18 procedure.

They will be accompanied door-to-door by two paediatric paramedics.

And Mr Heffernan said he is calling on old friends to ensure the family won’t have to pay for a ferry crossing. “These two kids need help now and the family needs support. That’s what we are there for, and that’s what the BUMBLEance service is there for,” said Tony.

Yesterday, the Irish Examiner reported on the plight of the 18-month-old twin girls who were born with long segment tracheal stenosis, which causes an obstruction in the trachea — the airway tube that links the throat to the lungs.

They are the only twins in Ireland with the condition and need a regular procedure, which cannot be done in Ireland, to keep their airways open.

Audrey asked doctors in Great Ormond Street to assess the girls’ medical files and they agreed to work on the girls on Dec 18.

The three-pronged non- invasive procedure includes a bronchoscopy and a dye test to evaluate their condition, and then the insertion of a special balloon to stretch the girls’ airways.

The HSE insisted last night that no application for treatment abroad under its Treatment Abroad Scheme has been received for the twins. A spokesperson said therefore, no funding for treatment has been refused.

But Audrey insists she was told no funding would be granted if she applied, forcing her to go public with an appeal for help to raise €34,000 by the Dec 18 deadline. Yesterday she got a massive boost as the Munster rugby squad backed her fundraising drive.

Mr Heffernan said he was also delighted to be able to help Audrey, who helped raise funds for his daughter Saoirse a few years ago.

Saoirse, who had a fear of travelling by ambulance, was the inspiration behind the BUMBLEance, which looks like a giant bumblebee and has medical equipment concealed from passengers.

- Facebook: Help Zoe & Maya, bumbleance.com


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