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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
new icu

Leo met some very small, very cute babies today

‘There’ll be trouble … his grandparents didn’t even get to hold him yet!’

LEO VARADKAR GOT a break from Leinster House today, getting to spend some time with babies at Holles Street Maternity Hospital.

The Health Minister was officially opening the €6 million neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital this afternoon.

There he met with Deborah Larkin and Paul Nolan, whose son Oscar is getting to go home for the first time today.

Oscar was born on 21 December at 28 weeks, weighing just 980 grams (about 2 pounds).

His parents said they are delighted to be bringing their young son home, and have his bag packed and ready to go.

Oscar – who now weighs 2.25kg, just shy of five pounds – took his first photoshoot in his stride.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Pictured is Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland



Pics: Órla Ryan/

Paul joked that there might be trouble that Varadkar got to pick him up, noting: “His grandparents didn’t even get to hold him yet!”

Varadkar defended the decision to spend €6 million on a hospital that will be moving to the St Vincent’s University Hospital campus, saying the nature of certain types of health care such as maternity mean “you can’t wait years” to make an investment.

I think it’s a really important development … Only 30 years ago, most of the children who would have gone into this unit would’ve died. Now, the vast majority of them survive and it’s important that we have as modern infrastructure as possible.

The visit was jam-packed, from hand-washing:

To ribbon-cutting:

Delayed discharges

The health minister was also asked about the issue of delayed hospital discharges, saying they result in a higher mortality rate.

I’m not aware of any specific case where anyone has lost their life as a result of a delayed discharge, but it’s documented internationally where treatment is delayed that that does impact in terms of increased morbidity and increased mortality.

On the subject of an upcoming bill on surrogacy, Varadkar said he was in favour of public funds eventually being used to support people who undergo IVF treatment.

“At the moment there are more pressing demands on the health service. It’s something that I would favour in principle, but there are many more urgent funding demands in the health service,” he said.

Meanwhile, not everyone is enamoured with the Health Minister today…

Designer babies won’t be allowed under new surrogacy laws

Does Leo Varadkar act like a health minister? FF and SF say no

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