THIS Christmas will be extra special for RTE presenter Brendan Courtney, who has spoken for the first time of a potentially life-threatening medical scare 12 months ago.
The 'Off The Rails' star told the Irish Independent he feared for his life after doctors informed him he had a nine-inch blood clot in his arm, which developed following a long haul flight from the US.
"I was flying back from New York on December 12 last year and I fell asleep against my arm on the airplane. I got really, really sick and I was rushed into hospital.
"When I asked the doctor how serious it was, he just said: 'Look, either the clot won't move and you'll be fine, or it'll move and you'll be dead.' It was absolutely terrifying," he said.
Courtney was hit by a second scare while in a hospital for the clot, as a large tumour on his thyroid was also discovered. "The whole thing was a massive exercise in total fear," he explained. "I literally went straight in to have surgery and thank goodness it was benign. It was all really random and I was very unlucky. But it was a good wake-up call and you realise we're all vulnerable.
"I had a very good support system thanks to my partner, my sister and my parents. But I remember at home afterwards thinking: 'Imagine if you didn't have this network of people and were on your own?'."
The style guru said that the scare inspired him to get involved in ALONE, which provides housing and support for homeless elderly people around Dublin.
He turned out yesterday to officially hand over the keys of a new home to a gentleman who has been living in homeless B&B accommodation for the past two years.
"It's heart-melting. My parents are vital, but they're going to get old, as will I hopefully, so to see older people who are alone makes you want to help in any way you can because loneliness is a massive problem in Irish society. Homelessness can also happen to anyone, so to see this lovely man receive a home is amazing," said Courtney.
The resident, who wished to be identified only as James, told the Irish Independent that it was a Christmas wish turned real for him.
He is now looking forward to inviting his grandchildren over during the holidays.
"When I was in the hostel, you had to be in by 11pm every night and if that was a problem, you were told to ring ahead and let them know," he said.
"Having my own place now gives me such independence and a newfound sense of freedom. I'm delighted."
Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, added: "This week we're moving five people into homes. We have 100 houses for homeless older people around the city. Everybody who moves in is very unique, with different backgrounds."