Sunday 22 October 2017

'Quite frankly I'm terrified' - Moment RTE star Ronan Collins was told he could be paralysed revealed in new documentary

Surgeon Dr David O'Brien speaks to Ronan Collins about the possibility of paralysis
Surgeon Dr David O'Brien speaks to Ronan Collins about the possibility of paralysis
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The moment RTE presenter Ronan Collins was told by his surgeon that he could face paralysis from the waist down is revealed in a new documentary series.

The RTE Radio 1 presenter was forced to take time out from his weekday programme recently, The Ronan Collins Show, when he faced a sudden, terrifying health scare.

Ronan Collins on RTE documentary series Trauma, which starts on Thursday October 12 at 9.30pm
Ronan Collins on RTE documentary series Trauma, which starts on Thursday October 12 at 9.30pm

He was making an appearance at a gig in Trim, Co Meath in August when he tried to stand on stage but collapsed as his right leg suddenly went limp.

He went to A&E at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown but lost all feeling in his lower body and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital where he was delivered some terrifying news.

As he arrived in the middle of the night RTE cameras were there to chart his journey.  They were filming for new four-part documentary series Trauma which gives viewers access behind the scenes at Irish emergency departments.

The 64 year old features in the first episode and viewers will see neurosurgeon, Mr David O'Brien at Beaumont explain that Ronan will need surgery and that there will be a small chance of paralysis.

The MRI of Ronan's spine shows the mass pressing on the spinal cord
The MRI of Ronan's spine shows the mass pressing on the spinal cord

"The spinal cord is damaged," he tells Ronan.  "We're not saying that it is permanent damage.  There's great potential for it to improve but the rate of that improvement and recovery is very slow.  But if we do it there's a chance that I could make it worse."

He adds, "There is a chance that afterwards, not being too graphic, but that there will be nothing down here," he says, moving his hand over the lower half of Ronan's body.

As he surveys Ronan's MRI he explains that without surgery the popular presenter would become paralysed as his spinal cord is being pressed by a mass.

Mr O'Brien will later be seen operating on the RTE personality and attempting to remove the mass from his spine.

Ronan Collins receives good news following his surgery
Ronan Collins receives good news following his surgery

"What we didn't expect to find when we reached this point is that the abnormality is really stuck to the spinal cord," says Mr O'Brien during surgery.

"Any damage could cause the risk of spinal cord stroke.  You just don't want to cut the wrong thing here or compromise the blood supply to this cord.

Ronan Collins high fives Mr O'Brien when he receives the good news
Ronan Collins high fives Mr O'Brien when he receives the good news

"There's no way of me knowing right now how he's going to look."

Before the surgery Ronan reveals he is "terrified". 

Speaking about the moment he lost the power in his leg, he says, "I'm six foot tall.  I've always been able to walk, and walk around golf course.  And today I can't walk."

Following the surgery Ronan faced an anxious wait to see whether or not his movement would be compromised and whether or not the mass was benign.

"I'm a little bit maudlin and sentimental and I don't want that," he tells the cameras.  "I don't want to be teary eyed about it.  I've got a chance here.  The results of this scan will tell a lot, as will the analysis of this thing to tell us what it was so I have to wait for those.

Thankfully Mr O'Brien is able to deliver the good news that the mass was a benign cyst although he adds that there is a very small chance they would have to operate again as a small part remained, which was too dangerous to remove.

Ronan Collins will tell his story on tonight's Late Late Show and his story will also feature in the first episode on Trauma on October 12 at 9.30pm on RTE2.

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