Miracle baby Zoe Ireland, born at just 25 weeks in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, will be repatriated to the United States following an incredible act of charity from one kind donor.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, offered to give Zoe and her family $30,000 (€27,500) to pay for her special flight back to Tennessee after months spent in a special care unit in Ireland.
Astounded by the kindness the family have received during their extended detour to Dublin, Zoe’s mother, Jenny Drake, commended the generosity shown them by the Irish people.
“For such a small country you have such a big heart,” she said.
“Everyone we have met has opened their arms or house to us. You guys a have a lot to be proud of.”
The magic moment Jenny was told about the donation happened on Ray D’Arcy’s 2fm radio show and she is evidently shocked, yet delighted, she will finally be able to bring her little girl home.
Zoe Ireland was born last October just minutes after landing in Ireland when Jenny’s water broke an hour into a transatlantic flight from Paris to North Carolina.
As she was only 25 weeks pregnant, Drake initially believed she was suffering from Braxton Hicks when her contractions began and she attempted to convince herself that she was not in labor. She eventually brought her contractions to the attention of an air hostess who sought medical attention while the American Airlines flight was diverted to Dublin.
Zoe was born just four minutes after Jenny and her husband, Gavin Drake, arrived at the hospital and weighed just 1 pound 13 ounces at birth.
She was immediately brought to intensive care and has remained in the hospital since, gaining her strength and increasing in weight day by day.
Baby Zoe now weighs 6.6 lbs and is ready to make the journey home for the first time, despite still being younger than her due date in February.
Unfortunately, however, Zoe would not be able to make this 9.5 hour trip on a normal flight or without medical attention. If the couple were to wait until her immune system could handle a normal flight, they would be forced to remain in Ireland at least a further six months. That would mean abandoning the business they have built together at home for half a year longer at least, while still facing further medical fees if they remain in Ireland.
The family was already forced to stay in Ireland over the Christmas vacation where they were joined by their three-year-old son Aiden, who is currently staying with family in the US while his parents keep an eye on his new baby sister.
In order to raise the $67,000 (€61,500) needed for the medical flight that would allow them to bring their daughter back home, the Drake Family set up a GoFundMe page, appealing for the final $32,690 (€30,000) required on Ray D’Arcy’s RTÉ 2fm show earlier this week.
In an amazing act of kindness, one listener reached out to the radio presenter offering to make up the remaining $32,690 for the flight.
“He’s 100 percent above board, and he 100 percent wants to fund the repatriation of Zoe Ireland to her home country of America,” D’Arcy said.
D'Arcy read out the generous donor’s statement which said, “Unfortunately I don’t have a corporate jet, but I want to say as a family we want to donate in their quest to get home.
“Luckily, I have a successful business, but I like my daughters to take an interest in giving something back.
“I would, however, like to remain completely anonymous and do not want any publicity for doing this.”
Needless to say, the family was over the moon at the further kindness shown to them on Irish soil. The couple have already benefited from the good work of the charity Hugh’s House, which has provided the American couple with a free home in Dublin while they attend to all of Zoe’s medical needs.
Speaking to the Irish Sun, Jenny Drake said, “We are so grateful. It’s amazing. Now we’re in panic mode because we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do all of this. Now I’ve got to get busy.”
The family is hoping the little Zoe will make it back the US to celebrate her big brother’s birthday in a few weeks time.
“We’re hoping to make it, so I think we will,” Jenny continued.
Of course, although she will never remember her first trip to the Emerald Isle, Zoe and her family will always have a reminder of their first great big adventure together across the Atlantic.
Although the couple had previously decided on naming their daughter Elizabeth, they felt she was too eager to visit Ireland not to include some part of the country in her name, and so, they oped for Zoe Ireland instead.
"Yes we had to change it. We originally had planned Elizabeth. That no longer seems fitting. She had to now be Ireland," said Jenny.