Huge response to fundraising call for Limerick's Rob Laffan after brain injury in US

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Robert Laffan, 40, from Limerick city, suffered serious head trauma and a brain injury while attending a tech industry conference in Minneapolis

Robert Laffan, 40, from Limerick city, suffered serious head trauma and a brain injury while attending a tech industry conference in Minneapolis

OVER €11,000 has now been raised in public donations to help a Limerick father of two who remains in a hospital in the US after suffering a skull fracture and a brain injury last week.

Robert Laffan, 40, from Limerick city, suffered serious head trauma and a brain injury while attending a tech industry conference in Minneapolis.

More than 370 people have now made donations to help his recovery, as he will be unable to fly home for at least a month and his condition will require constant monitoring due to swelling in the brain.

Mr Laffan, who has received multiple awards for creating a device which helps non-verbal people communicate, was there to promote the product inspired by his efforts to give his autistic daughter a better life.

He fainted at the conference and fell back and hit his head, which resulted in a skull fracture, and was brought to hospital when he fell unconscious.

It later emerged that he had also suffered two bleeds in the brain.

While he initially recovered in hospital, he then began to suffer headaches, was in a confused state and was immediately placed in intensive care once doctors realised the severity of his condition, and the underlying bleeds.

His family told the Limerick Leader that while his condition is now stable, the severity of his injury will need to be monitored constantly and he may yet require surgery.

“Rob has a long road to recovery ahead, and will need to stay in the States for at least a month more, and will need rehabilitation therapy for some time.

“We are very thankful of the incredible and amazing support we have received from many people in Ireland and the US,” explained his brother-in-law Don Sims.

In August 2015, Mr Laffan received a Limerick Person of the Month award after developing his touchscreen device, Tippy Talk, which enabled his daughter Sadie, now aged six, to request various items and also to express how she is feeling.

It is now available as an app on the App store and on Android.

The Fairgreen native was in the second year of his degree course in Industrial Automation and Robotic Systems in Limerick Institute of Technology when he developed the creation.

He also won the Engineers Ireland Innovative Student Engineer of the Year Award 2015 and Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 for his creation.

Mr Laffan’s wife of ten years, Emily, is with him in the US, and his daughters Megan, 21, and Sadie are in Ireland with family.

“Sadie has severe autism and needs around-the-clock care. She needs her parents home, so please help with whatever you can spare,” pleaded Mr Sims.

He praised Senator Kieran O’Donnell with assisting the family with their travel arrangements to the US after learning of Mr Laffan’s injuries.

A table quiz will be held to raise further funds in the Spotted Dog pub in Janesboro on Thursday, November 2, from 8pm. All are welcome to attend.

A number of other fundraisers are being planned for the coming months.

To make a donation, see here.