All for the love of Harry
A local man has made a sporting donation to the neonatal unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital after being inspired by the "amazing" work of nurses who helped prevent the severe brain damage of his newly-born son.
Thomas Moore from East Belfast, raised a total of £2,000 by raffling and auctioning a range of unique sports memorabilia, donated to him by a number of high profile sports teams.
"I started planning different fundraising methods, contacting local businesses, local football teams and teams in Scotland," said Thomas.
He received signed jerseys from Blackburn Rovers, Rangers, Celtic, Linfield and the GAA's Dublin Mens Senior All-Ireland winning side. "As an Ulster fan, I was at the last game at Ravenhill before the old Main Stand was demolished. I contacted the contractors Gilbert Ashe and they got me a seat which was then signed by the entire Ulster squad," he added.
Thomas and his wife Katherine's first son Harry suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain after a traumatic and complicated birth at the Ulster Hospital in May 2012.
Harry was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital's intensive care, neonatal unit for a treatment called 'cooling'.
"This process lowered his core body by a few degrees, and basically gave him a mild form of hypothermia. After 72 hours he was gently warmed up to normal body temperature," said Thomas.
The theory is that the drop in temperature slows the body's responses and prevents any chemical reactions in the brain.
Harry was kept in the ICU for a week in total and then transferred to the special care unit where his parents got to hold and interact with him for the first time.
Neonatal nurses monitored Harry until the opportunity arose for him to have an MRI scan to assess any damage in the brain but as the Royal didn't have a dedicated scanner, the family had to wait for an appointment in the Ulster.
"While visiting the unit and staying over in the hospital, my wife and I had got talking to a lot of the nurses and they informed us about different fundraising campaigns that had been taking place to try and raise the £2 million pounds for the Royal to obtain its own scanner. "It was at that point that I decided that I wanted to do my bit to try and help out, as the work these guys do is amazing and they really don't get the praise they deserve."
Harry finally got the results the family had been waiting for in September 2012. "I knew it in my heart that there was nothing wrong with him but to have it confirmed medically was such a relief," said Thomas.
"Since the start of my fundraising, the MRI scanner at the Royal was given the go-ahead by Health Minister Edwin Poots, so I choose to donate my effort directly to the neonatal unit to help out other little babies.
"Harry is now 17-months-old, and is a normal happy, yet mischievous little boy, and we are so lucky to have him."
Thomas thanked "every single person who helped me achieve this amazing amount, which I hope will make a difference to a little baby's life."