AT a time when most kids are anxiously waiting to see what Santa Claus will bring, two young Na Magha players have overcome serious illness to ensure a Merry Christmas for everyone in the Altnagelvin Children’s Ward.
Michael Wilson reports
Callum Tester (4) and Dean Curley, who will be two in January, are both members of the club’s Campa Éamoin, a programme set up in memory of the Na Magha’s late chairman, Éamoin McFadden and designed to introduce kids to the sport in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
And such is the family nature of the Ballyarnett club that having seen Dean battle back from viral meningitis and Callum from a variety of medical issues including a virus of the lymphatic system, the young hurlers wanted to do something to show their appreciation for the excellent care received in the Children’s Ward. So they promptly challenged their parents to a game of hurling. And Won!
Callum’s mother, Aileen, takes up the story.
“My father Bobby Bradley is involved in the club as well as my late brother, Robert,” explained Aileen.
“Callum has followed in their footsteps and absolutely loves it. He loves running about and meeting his friends. They do such a variety of things and at that age it’s the whole thing of making friends and enjoying other kids company.
“Callum was first admitted to the Children’s Ward in September, straight after being diagnosed. He had been progressively ill over the course of the year and he didn’t have the energy to play.
“He was very brave throughout but waiting on test results was what I found the hardest. You know there is something wrong with your child but it’s that waiting for an answer which I found most difficult to deal with.
“We couldn’t say enough about the care Callum got and how good all the nurses and doctors were to him. They do a great job and never get the credit they deserve because once you’re out of hospital you tend to try and forget about it or put it behind you.”
Dean’s mother Kerry had a similarly positive experience of the Ward after his diagnosis in June 2010.
“For about five days before he was diagnosed, Dean was very lethargic. He had no energy. He was only five months old and really off form. I had him at the doctors five times in the one week but they kept telling me different things were wrong, one even said there was nothing wrong but I just kept saying he’s not right.
“He was burning up and his hands and feet were freezing. When I noticed a rash all over him we jumped in the car and went straight to the Altnagelvin. It was about a day and a half later they diagnosed Meningitis.
“Dean was in the hospital for five days, getting anti-biotics through a drip. I think it was ten days all together before he was in the clear. He needed a hearing test because quite often the illness can affect the hearing. He now has a kidney infection and that’s how that whole thing started. It was an undiagnosed kidney infection. The infection spread through his blood system and into his brain which caused meningitis.
“He still receives ongoing care from the hospital for his kidney condition but that is through out-patients. He is in every six months or so. It is great to be able to make this gesture because Na Magha is a family club and these are things which can effect any family.”
Aileen revealed Callum was delighted to be able to repay the kindness shown him in Altnagelvin.
“Callum was delighted when the club suggested rasing money for the Children’s Ward. He understood totally what everyone was doing and kept telling people he was rasing money for the people who made him better. He really wanted to help everyone over at the ‘Doctor’s Hotel’ - that’s how he put it.
“He was back at Campa Éamoin for the first time last week and running about with the rest of the players which was great to see.
“Michelle Bryson, from Altnagelvin, came on Saturday to receive the cheque for £300 and was delighted. Often when a child gets admitted they may be sent onto the specialist wards and it’s those who receive any donations, so she really appreciated the gesture.”
Both Aileen and Kerry paid tribute to Gearalt O Mianain and those at Campa Éamoin and Na Magha for their support.
Training for Campa Éamoin resumes at Gaelscoil Éadain Mhoir on Saturday, January 21st and any child who would like to give hurling or camogie a try is welcome to attend. Parents can come along and enjoy tea and coffee.
Organisers of the camp expressed thanks to Derek O’Hanlon and JP Conlan for their help with the fundraiser and all those who donated to the cause.