Seven-year-old Meghan O'Leary from Wicklow has donated her hair to raise almost €1,000 for sick children.
This wonderful act was done by Meghan after she became ill last summer. She was diagnosed with a rare an auto-inflammatory disease called Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis, or CRMO. It’s a rare disease with a one in a million chance of getting it.
It is a little known inflammatory bone disease occurring primarily in children and adolescents and it's so rare that the chances of contracting it are one in a million.
Meghan's mother, Judy explained that when her daughter was in Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, getting treatment, it deeply affected her; she saw other little girls without hair and she decided she wanted to donate her hair to them, and also fundraise for CMRF Crumlin.
“My daughter, Megan O’Leary, is one in a million.She came up with the idea of fundraising from her own experience of being sick. She hates getting her hair brushed so she wanted to get it cut. I told her about the Princess Trust and she said she’d donate her hair, but she didn’t have long enough hair at the time. She ended up getting sick last summer and we were in Crumlin. She was there for about two weeks and she saw little girls with no hair. She realised they must have had chemo, and she decided she wanted to donate her hair to those little girls," explained her very proud mum.
The Little Princess Trust - a charity based in the UK - provides real hair wigs free of charge to children and young adults up to the age of 24, who have sadly lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.
She said that her daughter spent over six months growing her hair in order to have enough to donate.
"She wanted to hit the two birds with the one stone by donating the hair and fundraising for the hospital so that they could buy lifesaving equipment and help other children. Megan spent 7 months growing her hair out. So far she has raised over €820 and she’s still going."
Even though she's so young and despite being sick herself, Meghan never forgot the kindness she received in hospital - nor did her mum - and this spurred her to want to give something back.
"I think her time in hospital was quite impactful on her. She was really sick for the first week and the second week it was all about tests," Judy added. "The nurses were so lovely to her and the doctors were really funny with her.She’s happy to be home but she was really well looked after in Crumlin and she hasn’t forgotten it. We’ll never forget how kind the staff were. She loved the playroom, she loved the little girl she made friends with, and she still talks about the nurses – they were all really good to her. She was so worried, she’s one of life’s worriers. The play therapists were wonderful with Megan. They are amazing at what they do and they help take a bit of worry off the children. That’s one of the reasons why CMRF Crumlin means so much to us both."
It's an incredible act of kindness but Megan's mum says her thoughtful daughter was most excited about giving the money she'd raised back because she knew how important it was. And even now, her mum says that Meghan likely didn't realise how important the act of cutting her hair was.
"She was very excited on the day [she got her hair cut] - she was going around telling everyone. Now that it’s cut, I don’t think she’s fully realised what a huge achievement it is, especially for someone so young. I’m so proud of how much empathy and compassion she has. She said she wanted to help other sick children who were sicker than she was."
"She’s most excited about handing the money over because she knows how important it is and where it’s going. She collected most of the money via iDonate. Every time someone would donate we’d tell her and she’d write a thank you message back. She’s very considerate like that and she’s very appreciative."
Meghan is very keen to get involved in the research into CRMO and has even said she'll donate some blood to help with the cause.
"They’ll take some of her blood to do tests on it because she is one of the very few people diagnosed with it," Judy said. "She is very keen to get involved in the research. She said if her blood will stop other people getting it she’ll happily donate it. She’s got a kind heart!”
This wonderful, uplifting story has made our day - well done Meghan!