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Baby Zoe Ireland finally gets to go home after donor pays €30k bill

Published 26/01/2016

Undated family handout photo of Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin. PA
Undated family handout photo of Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin. PA

Premature baby Zoe Ireland Drake has arrived safely home in Tennessee.

It was an emotional homecoming for her mum Jenny who unexpectedly went into labour while on a transatlantic flight from Paris to North Carolina last October, when she was just 25 weeks pregnant with Zoe.

The flight was diverted to Dublin and Zoe was born shortly afterwards in the Rotunda Hospital, weighing just one pound and 13oz.

The generosity of an anonymous donor who pledged the remaining €30,000 needed for a special medical charter flight home made it possible for the family to jet out of Dublin early on Saturday.

Little Zoe was flown into Nashville on an AirMed International critical care hawker jet on Saturday evening.

Finish

She was then brought to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where she was set to finish up some antibiotics.

Doctors were this week making sure that she was healthy enough to go home, following the long flight.

Jenny told the Herald yesterday that they were thrilled to be home. The family are from the city of Murfreesboro, in Tennessee.

"Zoe did great on the flight," she said. "We are hoping to get her home sometime next week.

Jenny Drake and husband Gavin
Jenny Drake and husband Gavin

"I'm seeing my sister for the first time in three months in about an hour.

"Please thank the Irish people again for taking us in as their own.

"We will definitely be back, and this time I actually plan to do some sightseeing," she said.

Jenny said that she now has a second home, and she and her husband Gavin can't wait to bring Zoe and her son Aiden (3) back one day to show them the city where Zoe was born.

The couple had needed to raise €67,000 to fully cover the cost of the medical flight to take baby Zoe home.

Predicament

A GoFundMe account had raised €38,000.

Jenny spoke of their predicament when she did an interview on RTE radio with Ray D'Arcy last Monday.

The following day, the radio host surprised her with the news that a donor had come forward, and offered to put up €30,000 for the flight home, but the man wanted to remain anonymous.

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