Article from 2020/2021 Impact of Giving Annual Report
While Nora O’Dwyer’s life may have been short, she has left a lasting impact on those around her, especially her parents Samantha and Richard. Now thanks to Vicinity Centres, where Richard has worked since 2017, Nora’s legacy will live on. After she passed away, the company generously made a commitment to sponsor a bed on Butterfly in Nora’s name.
Early on in Samantha’s pregnancy with twins Clodagh and Nora, she and husband Richard were told that something wasn’t quite right with Nora. By the 26-week scan, they learned that not only did Nora have CHD, but she was also showing signs of a stomach issue.
“At 26 weeks and five days I was rushed into hospital with preterm labour, where we discovered that Nora had a vasa previa meaning her main blood supply was dangerously positioned across my cervix, putting her at significant risk of bleeding out. We were told to prepare for the worst, but Nora held on,” said Samantha.
Clodagh and Nora were born in June 2019 at just 28 weeks. Nora was rushed straight to the RCH and diagnosed with several congenital conditions impacting her trachea, oesophagus, and heart.
“Nora was a fighter from day one. During her short life, she had six surgeries, including one on the very first night she was born. However, we kept coming up against issues,” said Samantha.
“It felt like anything that came through the doors of the hospital, Nora contracted it. Eventually, it got to a point where Nora’s lungs were getting so bad, they were collapsing every other day. Her trachea was also getting very fragile and started to collapse as well so we made the decision to insert a trach tube which would help improve her time in hospital.”
“In the weeks following the surgery, Nora changed. She was awake more often and she was happy. We were able to do so many things with her that we’d wanted to do for so long like giving her baths and playing with her. We were hopeful that she was turning the corner,” said Samantha.
Three weeks before Christmas, Nora was scheduled for her final surgery which would connect her oesophagus and stomach and have her on the home stretch of her hospital stay. The morning of, Nora came down with a temperature and a few days later was in sepsis. It was then that Samantha and Richard knew the time was coming to say goodbye. On December 19 2019, Nora’s 198th day in the NICU, Nora enjoyed one last day with her family.
“Her last day was really beautiful. We sang to her, took hand and footprints, and read her favourite book, Monkey Puzzle, over and over. We had a private Christmas concert with the Starlight Captains and then took her on our first family walk in the garden where we had professional photos taken. It felt so normal.”
“Then, surrounded by her loved ones, nurses and clinicians – Nora took her last breaths – all on her own, no more ventilator – and peacefully passed away in our arms. It was a really special time, and I am so grateful we had that moment with her,” said Samantha.
For Samantha and Richard, the support received from Vicinity Centres in the past two years has been above and beyond.
“From the moment the twins were born we felt so supported by Vicinity Centres. While we were in hospital with Nora, Rich was able to work from the hospital and there were no questions asked if he needed to take time off.”
Shortly after Nora passed away, Richard’s bosses approached him and asked if they were able to sponsor a bed in Nora’s name on Butterfly.
“We were honoured. For them to stand up and acknowledge our loss in that way, it was incredible.”
“When you lose a child, one of the things that you worry about is that people will forget about them. To have Nora’s name up in the hospital and knowing the doctors and nurses who looked after her will see her name each day is really special. It is a good example of how other businesses and organisations can support families after a loss because often, people don’t know what to do or how to help.”
“Nora spent every day of her life in hospital, and in the end the RCH was Nora’s only home, which is why it is so special to us to know she is being remembered there. We will forever be grateful that Vicinity Centres gave us this gift,” said Samantha.