Epilepsy ended rugby dreams of my son Luke (10) -- Schmidt
Published 18/01/2014 | 02:30
Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt has spoken out to raise awareness about epilepsy, after years of watching his son suffer "debilitating" seizures.
Ten-year-old Luke was diagnosed with a severe case of the condition at the age of four, and has undergone numerous brain surgeries since then.
Schmidt, who was appointed Ireland head coach last year, said that the condition limits some of the things his son can do, including playing sport, despite being a big rugby fan.
"He played it a little bit, he's not allowed to play any more because of the amount of surgery he has had," Schmidt said.
This week, Luke was hit by 15 seizures in the space of one day.
"He's had it since he was four when they removed a very sizeable tumour, which caused some tissue damage. But as a result of that it's something that he's learned to cope with.
"The condition is made a lot less debilitating by the support he gets in school and he's got some great friends who pick him up and they keep him going," said the 48-year-old New Zealand native.
"We have a fantastic school, Stratford National School, that does a good job; we are well looked after by the neurology department in Crumlin Hospital; and surgically, Donncha O'Brien at Beaumont Hospital has done a great job."
There are 40,000 people in Ireland who suffer from epilepsy, which is described as a group of long-term neurological disorders characterised by epileptic seizures.
Schmidt, who was on hand in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to promote the Be Seizure Aware campaign yesterday, said it was very important for people to be aware of what to do if someone had a seizure.
More information is available on epilepsy.ie ahead of European Epilepsy Day on February 10.