Suzanne House is opened in June 1986 to provide care, support and respite services for children who are medically fragile or have a life-limiting condition.
Suzanne House is named after a remarkable little girl who passed away at the age of 13 years from a long illness with SPHE (rare measles related virus). Her parents Vera and Brendan cared for her at home through her long illness
by Suzanne’s dad, Brendan.
Suzanne entered the world a very healthy and happy baby on 20th February 1972. She lived a very full and busy childhood, eager to learn and grow. Suzanne loved her school life and all of her extracurricular activities; piano lessons, Irish dancing, swimming, girl guides and a very large circle of friends. In August 1982, she was diagnosed with Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE), a measles related virus that erupts in 1 in 1 million children, as we were told at the time. So our journey into the medically unknown commenced.
Within a matter of weeks, Suzanne was completely incapacitated and doubly incontinent and eventually needed to be fed by nasal tube. The choice was then to leave her in hospital or take her home and learn all the necessary skills to facilitate her new condition. Ruled by our hearts and not our heads, we brought Suzanne home at Christmas 1982. With the patient guidance and instruction of the nursing staff in Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin, we managed to master nasal tube feeds, administer medication and take temperature. We did have the comfort of knowing that there was a bed available in Crumlin Hospital for any medical emergency that could and did arise from time to time.
There were no respite services available at that time. Through a fortunate sequence of events we were put in contact with Saint John of God Services in Islandbridge where we met Sheila Murphy and Anne Phelan. This meeting changed our lives and the many tasks of caring for Suzanne on our own. Suzanne began to attend Island Bridge on a daily basis under the care of Sheila and her staff. So began the consideration of how many other children like Suzanne and their families there must be in the community. After much research of such needs of children in life limiting conditions, it was decided to open a specialist service and the concept of Suzanne House was born.
Suzanne passed away at home on 10th October 1985. Suzanne House was opened in 1986.
Brendan continues to work as a volunteer at Suzanne House.