How Jack & Jill Begun

The Story

On 29 February 1996…

Jack Irwin was born – a bonny bouncy baby. Two days later he suffered some invasive trauma in the hospital’s nursery.

While history does not reveal the immediate aftermath of this drama, it is probable that he died and was resuscitated. Certainly from that moment on, Jack could not swallow and was probably blind and deaf. His parent’s dreams were shattered and the heartbreaking task of keeping Jack alive began.

The senior pediatrician in the hospital was brutal but honest

Asked for a route map of care for Jack once he left their intensive care unit, it was made clear that there were simply no services in Ireland available in 1997 to a baby like Jack. He cautioned that Jack’s needs would threaten the marriage and certainly damage the childhood of his healthy brothers and sister. To escape this trap, he advised the only way out was to get him admitted to one of the children’s hospitals. Then and only then would the State have to take responsibility for him.

Spine chilling advice that resolved Jack’s parents to take action. Never again would any Irish family have to face such a horror

Jack lived for 22 months – a desperate and painful life. A mix of drugs, physio, postural drainage, seizures, reflux operations, gastronomy and suctioning. The only saving grace was that he was cosy and warm and nursed around the clock by a dedicated band of five nurses and carers from the neighbourhood.

His short life showed his parents the ideal way in which little children like Jack can be nursed. From their experience evolved the home respite care that has now been offered to over 1700 children and their families all over Ireland since 1997.

This leads to a situation where the Jack & Jill Foundation not only has to raise funding of up to €2.7 million per annum but must act as advocate for it’s families helping in securing a carer’s allowance, a medical card, correct housing, special equipment or a primary medical certificate.