Local doctor saves children and babies lives in Sierra Leone with help of community donations

By Laura Lyne


A DOCTOR who has previously made several trips to Africa and Asia to help provide medical care in low-income countries, has spent the last month in Sierra Leone providing clinical care for children and newborn babies.

Dr Niall Conroy, from Kilnamanagh, is a lecturer in the Centre for Emergency Medical Science (CEMS) at the UCD Medical School and is currently studying for a PhD in newborn resuscitation in low-income countries.

He travelled to Africa alongside his CEMS colleague and GP in the Coombe Hospital Dr Tomás Barry after receiving funding to form a partnership between CEMS and Bo Government Hospital (BGH).

Niall also brought along a number of donations from the community of Kilnamanagh, including clothes for newborn babies, €700 from the youth club and a number of individual donations for an Irish-run orphanage in The Fresh Hope Baby Rescue Centre in Bo.

Niall Conroy 1 

Niall told The Echo: “The parents in the crèche at the Kilnamanagh Resource Centre donated a huge amount of newborn clothes.

“These are really important as babies in Africa die of the cold all the time. Premature and small babies in any part of the world can die of cold over just a few hours and things can get chilly enough in Sierra Leone overnight, especially during the frequent thunder storms.

“The youth club in the Kilnamanagh resource centre also had a fundraiser, where they raised about €700. This will buy a newborn warmer for use on the babies who are really very small and need extra interventions to keep them warm enough to stay alive. 

“I also received a number of individual donations to buy clothes for a local Irish-run orphanage. With this money, we were able to buy all 40 children in the orphanage some new clothes, and we were also able to use the extra money to pay for the excess baggage in bringing all of the newborn and orphanage clothing to Sierra Leone.”

 Niall and Tomás will be returning from Sierra Leone this week, and over the past month helped many children and newborn babies with their work.

Niall Conroy 2 

Niall said: “We provided direct clinical care in BGH for children and newborns. Things are dreadful at the minute. The ebola outbreak is just over and it has completely shattered the healthcare system.

“Things were so bad I even had to donate my own blood one day as we had three babies who were about to die of anaemia secondary to malaria and we had nothing in the blood bank to give them a transfusion.

“The establishment of a neonatal unit in BGH is something I’ve been battling for over a number of years and is my number one ambition for BGH. In Ireland, we wouldn’t let a newborn near anyone who is sick.

“It is not uncommon for them to have to share a bed with older children who have infections.

“The labour ward is on the other side of the hospital to the childrens ward. Recently a baby stopped breathing twice while I was carrying it to the kids ward!

“We secured local support for the neonatal unit on this trip. We then travelled to the capital Freetown where UNICEF and the UN were very keen to help and will hopefully assist us in getting the unit off the ground sometime this year.”

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