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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 18 March, 2019
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Boy from Mayo is first-ever patient to be transported in BUMBLEair helicopter

A commercial helicopter pilot donated his time and the use of the helicopter at his own expense.

20170702_BUMBLEance_Air_Service_0007 Keith Gallagher with his father David (right) and Tony Heffernan Source: Eamon Ward

A 12-YEAR-OLD boy from Mayo is the first-ever patient to be transported in the BUMBLEair helicopter.

Cancer patient Keith Gallagher is being flown to Dublin for treatment today.

The flight was arranged by the Saoirse Foundation, the charity behind the national BUMBLEance service that transports sick children to and from hospital.

The flight left Knock Airport in Mayo at 5pm, with Keith and his father David on board. The flight is travelling to Weston Aerodrome in Lucan, Dublin, where it is expected to land at around 6.20pm. From there they will be picked up by a BUMBLEance which will take them to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

The helicopter is being flown by commercial pilot Ryan Hanrahan, who donated his time and the use of the helicopter at his own expense.

Trial run 

Today’s BUMBLEair flight is a trial run, but the Saoirse Foundation hopes to make it a more regular fixture of the services it offers. BUMBLEance operates a fleet of specially kitted-out interactive ambulances providing free transport for sick children nationally.

BUMBLEair-27 Commercial helicopter pilot and BUMBLEance volunteer Ryan Hanrahan Source: Conor McCabe Photography Ltd

Speaking today, CEO of the Saoirse Foundation Tony Heffernan said: “This helicopter service for sick kids has been on our wish list for a while so I’m delighted that it’s finally becoming a reality today.

“By taking some of the travel stress away it will make a big difference to Keith and his family during this difficult time.”

A difficult time 

Heffernan described Keith as “a wonderful boy who deserves and will get a lot of our attention”.

“Keith and his family have had a difficult time recently. Not only was he diagnosed with a serious strain of cancer but the family also lost their mum to cancer recently.

Keith’s dad David has been travelling by road with Keith for chemo treatment every week since April aboard the new BUMBLEance 5, a regional based service for the children of the northwest. This air flight will cut that travel time for them and hopefully help to take away some of the stress of dealing with Keith’s illness.

Keith’s father David Gallagher said the BUMBLEance service has been “great” for the family, adding: “It’s just a relief to know that I have the help of the BUMBLEance team.”

For more information about BUMBLEance, click here.

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Órla Ryan

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