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Organ donor families fund refurbished ICU Family Rooms in memory of their loved ones

Two family rooms in the Intensive Care Unit at UHG have recently been refurbished for use by families who have loved ones receiving treatment in the unit – thanks to two organ donor families in memory of their loved ones.

The Kenny family from Loughrea and the Ó Brádaigh family from Oranmore have supported these projects through their generous fundraising efforts in the past and present. The refurbished rooms will provide a more comforting and peaceful environment for families and friends of patients in the ICU.

These rooms are used 24 hours a day, seven days a week for families of seriously ill patients. Located just outside the Critical Care Unit in UHG, these rooms offer a private space for families during a stressful and difficult time.

The most recent refurbishment focused on maximizing the use of space and functionality. Seating capacity has been increased and creative artwork was included to provide a calm ambience. The aim of the refurbishment was to provide a comfortable space for families with adequate refreshment facilities.

“This is our way of showing our gratitude to the amazing ICU staff and we hope that other families who find themselves in similar circumstances will find some comfort in these refurbished surroundings,” said Isabelle Kenny, daughter of the late Mary Kenny.

Mait Ó Brádaigh is the father of the late Sadhbh Ní Bhrádaigh – and his family’s involvement was down to their own experience of using the facility at a time of great distress.

“We had cause to avail of these rooms at a very sad and difficult time in our lives after our daughter Sadhbh’s death,” he said.

“We hope that families who find themselves needing these rooms, will benefit from the little comforts that have been made, during what can be such a distressing time,” he added.

Artist Conall Carey was commissioned to design a light box, which is the most symbolic feature of the family rooms. Conall also made some individual prints of the sycamore seeds for the kitchenette, which are complemented by poetry.

“The artworks created are inspired by the turning of the seasons and the cycle of life; as Rachel Carson eloquently writes in her book Silent Spring: ‘There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter’,” he added.

Gillian Shanahan, Organ Donation Nurse Manager, Saolta University Health Care Group said they were ‘continually in awe’ of the generosity of organ donors and their families for their care and consideration of others through the gift of life.

“Both of these families made the decision to give even more. They fundraised so that a comfortable space can be provided in our hospital for other families within the community that are experiencing the critical care journey of a beloved one,” she said.

“Rooms like these are often where hearts are breaking or hope is being held onto. Providing a space that can be an oasis for families is what we wanted to create. Often these rooms are cold and sterile and leave those in them feeling even more alone, our goal was to design a space that is both serene and warm enough to accommodate families and friends.”

Pictured at the newly refurbished family room in ICU were (front – from left) Anne McKeown, End- of Life Coordinator; Isabelle Kenny, Donor Family; John Kenny, Donor Family; Mait Ó Brádaigh, Donor Family; and Margaret Flannery; Arts Director, Saolta University Health Care Group, with (back) Claire Lavelle, CNM3 Critical Care Unit; carpenter Joshua Walshe; painter Ray Madden, and Gillian Shanahan; Organ Donation Nurse Manager.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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