'We never thought we’d see this day'- Colleen celebrates 21st birthday after her parents were told she’d die at birth
Published 28/09/2016 | 12:21
The parents of an Irish woman who were told she wouldn’t survive birth threw a party in her honour to mark 21st birthday.
Colleen O’Kelly suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Joubert Syndrome and doctors believed that if she survived delivery, she would certainly not see her first birthday.
However, Colleen defied all odds and marked the milestone with a massive Rockabilly themed birthday in her hometown of Naas in Kildare last weekend, which was especially precious for her mum Tina who never thought she’d see the day.
“It was an incredibly emotional day for all of us, because we were told she wouldn’t survive delivery,” said Tina.
“All these occasions we celebrate, her birthday, each Christmas are all milestones we never thought we’d reach and they’re so emotional when we do.
“All Colleen really wanted was cake and karoke on her birthday so her wish was fulfilled! We never thought we’d see this day, it was incredible.
“We had a sort of a retro, rockabilly theme. She had her hair and make-up done and all day before hand she was so excited.
“At her party Colleen insisted her first kiss would be from our friend John Dooley who has a beard, and that the 21st would be from her dad. She didn’t care who was in between,” said Tina.
Tragically, Tina and her husband Bob lost their third child to Joubert Syndrome.
“He would have been fourteen this year,” said Tina.
Tina, who is also mum to Amy (24), revealed that Colleen has been a huge inspiration to her family and the wider community, who turned out in their numbers to help her celebrate.
“Amy has always said that Colleen is her favourite person in the world. They have such a wonderful, lovely relationship. Amy grew up and became a child protection social worker, a path that I know was so influenced by Colleen.
“Colleen is the most happy person, she just draws people to her. She’s the happiest soul God ever put on this planet. Everywhere we go, people are stopping her. She has a way with them. She’s so lovable and has a magnetism.
“Although we’ve been incredibly fortunate with the medical care Colleen has received and the amazing doctors who have been there for her one doctor we met many years ago told us she’d never amount to anything.
“Sometimes you’d love to go back and say ‘Look at her now and say that again’."