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Organ Donor families fund refurbished Family Rooms at Galway Hospital

 Large group of people standing in the corner of a room.

Two family rooms in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in University Hospital Galway (UHG) have recently been refurbished for use by families who have loved ones receiving treatment in the unit. The refurbishment of the rooms is credited to two organ donor families in memory of their loved ones. The Kenny family from Loughrea and the Ó Brádaigh family from Oranmore supported the 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.

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

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

Isabelle Kenny, daughter of the late Mary Kenny, explained that “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.”

Mait Ó Brádaigh, father of the late Sadhbh Ní Bhrádaigh, outlined how they had “cause to avail of these rooms at a very sad and difficult time in our lives after our daughter Sadhbh’s death. 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.”

Artist Conall Carey was commissioned to design a light box, which is the most symbolic feature of the family rooms: "The artworks 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.”

Conall also made some individual prints of sycamore seeds for the kitchenette, which are complemented by poetry.

Gillian Shanahan, Organ Donation Nurse Manager, Saolta University Health Care Group, noted that 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 who are experiencing the critical care journey of a loved one.

"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.”

Commenting on the importance of the newly refurbished family rooms, hospital manager Chris Kane said that “families need a private dignified space during critical times. These refurbished rooms provide a much-improved environment for patients, visitors and staff. We are very appreciative and thankful to everyone who was involved in the transformation, especially the families who supported this project which has made the refurbishment of the two rooms possible. It means that there is some comfort to families when they need it most.”