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'They were crying with us': #BraveLikeEmmeline appeal sees over €450k donated to children's hospitals

A fundraising campaign set up in memory of a six-month-old girl who passed away last year has raised over €450,000 after her parents appeared on Friday's Late Late Show.

Munster rugby player Billy Holland and his wife Lanlih are fundraising for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and the children's wards at Cork University Hospital to remember their brave little girl, Emmeline, who passed away last May.

Emmeline, who was born in November 2018, was diagnosed with a heart defect soon after her birth and her parents were given a devastating diagnosis when she was just three weeks old. She underwent heart surgery and sadly died a short time later in her mother's arms.

"We went back up to Crumlin and she had a minor heart procedure," Billy said.

"About a week later we had our bags packed, ready to go home, and she took a turn the night before we were due to go home. She went into ICU from there and 10 days later she died in Lanlih's arms. It was just the rawest emotion imaginable. It's impossible to put into words."

Lanlih paid tribute to the hard-working staff at both hospitals and praised their compassion when dealing with sick children and their parents.

"She fought so hard and we fought so hard. The medical staff we dealt with in Crumlin and CUH, they fought so hard. We were devastated, they were devastated. They were crying with us," she said.

Billy said he was touched when the doctors and nurses who cared for his daughter came to paid their respects at her funeral.

Seeing the nurses and the doctors coming up to us at the removal and the funeral, it just shows they're such compassionate people. They're so compassionate and loving and they care for each and every patient, in particular the children. It's such a special place.

Lanlih said the aftermath of Emmeline's death has been "unbearable" and "overwhelming".

"It was so cruel that she didn't make it. After she died we got to bring her home but then we had to face into what no one should have to face, which is picking out her coffin, picking out a grave plot. The house when we were at home, there was so much activity. There were nurses in and out, we had her oxygen machine on, and now it was just silent. It was unbearable, the silence. My body still physically longs for her, the weight of her holding her, to kiss her, to cuddle her. It's overwhelming at times."

The couple hoped to raise €100k for the two hospitals and the Ronald McDonald House charity but their target was passed following their interview on RTÉ. The couple has raised €279k so far.

The GoFundMe appeal is available to donate to here.

Their appeal also generated many text donations to the hospitals last night, and other parents and former patients took to social media to share their experiences in the hospitals.

"We are overwhelmed by the support and generosity shown by viewers of The Late Late Show last night," said Ryan Tubridy.

"As we gathered in the green room after the show last night, we watched in awe as the donations kept coming in, the Irish Public’s generosity knows no bounds. We all wanted to acknowledge and give thanks to these incredible families, attending these wards day in, day out, and the phenomenal, constant and unparalleled dedication and work that takes place at CHI at Crumlin and throughout of Ireland's children's wards.

"People looking on last night knew that these stories could be any person's story, could knock on any of our doors, that these supports are vital. When the call came, the Late Late Show viewers answered...and then some."

This story was updated on Sunday at 3.20pm