Put on a silly sweater and help the children
Alex, Kai, Olivia and Amelia help launch Children’s Health Foundation’s ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ 2021 campaign

Put on a silly sweater and help the children

A SEVEN-year-old girl from Clondalkin helped to launch Children Health Foundation’s Christmas Jumper Day 2021 campaign, which aims to raise vital funds for CHI hospitals across Crumlin, Temple Street and Connolly.

This year, Children’s Health Foundation is calling on people across Dublin to get festive and support the long-standing campaign Christmas Jumper Day which will help more children than ever, by raising funds to support Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) hospitals and urgent care centres.

Olivia Staines, who was born with a congenital heart defect, along with four other children, joined rugby legend Rob Kearney to launch this year’s Christmas Jumper Day, which will take place on Friday, December 10.

“When I was in the Coombe and Olivia was about two days old, they were doing general checks and because she was my second daughter, I was just assuming they would say ‘yep, she’s fine, off you go’,” Olivia’s mam Jess told The Echo.

“I just remember the doctor who was checking her asked me if there was any history of heart problems in the family and I was really taken aback because there wasn’t.”

At just two days old, Olivia was diagnosed with a heart murmur and Patent ductus arteriosus or PDA, which is a persistent opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart.

“Every baby has it when they are in the womb, it is part of how their whole circulation system works but once the baby is born it is supposed to close and for some babies it doesn’t,” explained Jess.

After waiting a few years in hopes the opening would close itself, which can be the case for many with PDA, Olivia underwent surgery when she was five years old to close the opening.

Irish rugby legend Rob Kearney is helping to launch Christmas Jumper Day 2021 by asking you to dig out those mad knitted sweaters and raise lots of cash for vital funds

“Essentially what they do is they put like a catheter up through the groin and they fit a small device to plug the hole,” said Jess.

“Olivia is still under cardiology in Crumlin for that, and my understanding is that if you were to grow older with PDA that is where the problems can start, so early detection and prevention of that is important.”

On December 10, families, communities, schools, crèches, clubs and companies are encouraged to host a Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser, put on their best or worst Christmas fashions and raise funds that will be put to work where they are needed most to help children like Olivia.

Speaking about the importance of the fundraiser, Jess added: “With children, you just never know, and we are very fortunate that we have these great hospitals nearby, but they are under pressure, and they need the funds and the support.”

Denise Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Foundation echoed this by saying: “It’s the most magical time of year once again and we need you to put on your silliest sweaters, raise vital funds and help make a real and lasting difference to the lives of sick children and their families across Children’s Health Ireland hospitals and urgent care centres.

“By taking part in this year’s Christmas Jumper Day you will help fund vital equipment, essential patient supports, ground-breaking research and new services.”

For more information and to sign up today for your free Children’s Health Foundation Christmas Jumper Day pack, simply visit www.childrenshealth.ie/xmasjumper or call 01 709 1700.