A Dundonald family has been left “devastated and heartbroken” after losing their fifth child to a mystery illness which has baffled doctors for 17 years.
Jamie Pollock said on Monday morning that her little daughter Lacey, aged four, had finally lost her battle with the mystery condition.
“This morning we held our beautiful princess Lacey in our arms and said goodbye,” Jamie said on Facebook.
“We are totally heartbroken, really have no words, love you my angel, sleep tight princess xx.”
More than 1,200 people signalled their support to the family online, with dozens leaving messages of sympathy.
A close friend of the family, Kim Marshall, told the News Letter about the impact of their latest tragic loss.
“Jamie and Mark are just devastated, they are just totally heartbroken,” she said.
The couple’s first-born child, Jordan, was the first to die from the mystery illness in 2001, aged 11 months, she said.
The others who succumbed were Jamie-Lee, aged 13, Ellie aged six and Lexi, who died at only nine weeks.
All five of the children who died have suffered the same physical and mental developmental issues.
“They all had to be peg fed straight into their stomachs,” Kim said.
“They all had breathing problems and none of them have been able to walk or talk.”
The best medical minds in the UK – including those at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London – have wrestled with the condition for well over a decade but have as yet still been unable to get to the root cause.
“They just can’t figure out what it is. It is hard to believe that with the state of science these days they were still unable to come up with anything.”
Lacey was being treated in intensive care for nine weeks before she died. Her parents made a list of things she loved to do in order to make her final few days as special as possible, with the support of staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Over the summer they aimed to make several other wishes come true.
One was to use a play park with her brothers, which they succeeded in achieving, leaving some special lasting memories. Another was to create a sensory house, which they came close to achieving.
The couple only got news on Thursday that they just a few days left with their daughter, which left them “totally devastated”, Jamie said last week.
“Have no words... I won’t be replying back to anyone but anyone is welcome to call and see us,” she said to supporters on Facebook on Thursday.
“I really want to thank everyone that has been there for us and to the people that helped make Lacey’s last week so special.”
She added: “We never ever thought this day would ever come so soon for us.”
Kim has been inspired by how Jamie and Mark have managed to cope with the loss of five children.
“I have known them for 11-12 years,” she said. “I honestly think that they are the strongest people I have ever met, their strength and courage through losing five children has just been amazing, and yet they are still going.”
The family have four other boys that do not suffer from the mystery condition.
They are Kane 10, Zack, eight, Ollie six, and Mark, two.
“Zack and Kane are older but they just don’t understand why Lacey has to go to heaven. You just answer whatever wee questions you can,” Kim said.
“The family’s aim now is just to keep Lacey’s wee memory alive. Jamie wants to build a wee memorial garden at their home for all five of their children who died. They just want somewhere to go to remember them.”
It is hoped that Lacey’s funeral will take place this Friday at Roselawn, but this has yet to be confirmed, she said.
Plans to build memorial garden
Jamie and Mark now wish to build a memorial garden for all five of the children they have lost, at their Dundonald home.
They also wish to do something special with their remaining four boys to compensate for the trials they have had to go through.
Any extra monies will be put towards Lacey’s funeral.
Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/aufjc5-laceys-wish or cheques payable to Jamie Pollock may be sent c/o James Browns and Sons Funeral Directors, 719 Upper Newtownards Road, Dundonald, Belfast, BT4 3NU.