Monday 14 October 2019

'All we can do is hold his hand' - mother reveals surgeons will attempt to revive hit-and-run toddler from coma

Paul Higgins and injured son Zac – who remains in hospital
Paul Higgins and injured son Zac – who remains in hospital

Ralph Riegel

THE heartbroken mother of a toddler critically injured in a Cork hit and run revealed surgeons will attempt to revive him from a medically induced coma next week.

Young parents Paul Higgins and Aisling Sexton said they have been "totally overwhelmed" by messages of support, gifts and offers of special excursions for little Zac (2) once he recovers.

Aisling said it was "a miracle" that Zac survived such a severe impact.

Little Zac was left with multiple critical injuries when he was struck by Mazda saloon shortly before 4pm last Monday as he played near his Cork home.

The car, which had four occupants, fled the scene and left the toddler semi-conscious on the roadway in front of his Castle Meadows home off the Skehard Road.

He was initially rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) before being transferred by ambulance to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin for specialist care.

Zac's mother spoke on RedFM's Neil Prendeville Show to pay special thanks to everyone who had helped Zac and rallied to support her family.

“(Zac) got a big knock to his tummy but it didn’t damage anything," she said.

"There are all kinds of broken bones including a broken collar bone. Please God, they will all heal."

"The (Temple Street) hospital staff said they couldn’t believe it – it’s a miracle that he is alive at all."

"Zac took the full brunt of the impact and it was at high speed too. Zac is still in an induced coma and all we can do is hold his hand, pray for him, sing to him, you know."

"That is all we can do. I would give anything to swap places with my little boy. I have prayed, prayed and prayed that he will wake up and be OK,” the young mother sobbed.

Now, surgeons hope to revive Zac from his medically induced coma next week.

“They think they are going to keep him (sedation) under until Sunday or Monday. They are being very cautious which we all understand."

"They are doing the MRI today so hopefully it won’t show up anything and it’s just a swelling and it’s just all time now - Zac is going to have a lot of rehabilitation and everything when he comes out of it.”

A special CT scan has indicated that Zac sustained no brain damage in the hit and run though he had sustained a small bleed to his brain.

Surgeons placed him in a medically induced coma to aid his recovery and to allow any swelling of his brain to recede.

The boy - hailed by his father as "a little warrior" - sustained head injuries as well as a broken collar bone, multiple fractures and a severe blow to his abdomen in the collision.

Zac's father, Paul, slated as "heartless bastards" the occupants of the car that left his son lying critically injured in the roadway.

Aisling admitted that she initially thought the toddler was dead - describing initially thinking it was just "a little ball" lying on the road.

She was at home at the time with her three children, Max (7), Belle (4) and Zac (2).

A local youngster, Ben, told her something was terribly wrong outside her property.

“Ben was standing at the door and it seemed he was hyperventilating. Ben couldn’t get the words out - it was like he couldn’t speak."

"I said to him: ‘What’s wrong?’ and he said ‘Zac.’ I went out the door and then somebody shouted he was knocked down."

“I said ‘Where is he? and I looked up and down and he was so in front of me but he was so small I just didn’t see him – he was like a little ball on the road."

The horrified young woman immediately feared the worst.

"I thought he was dead - I really thought he was dead. I started screaming: ‘He’s dead’. It was like an eerie silence as if there was no one around."

Aisling and Paul said they were then overwhelmed with help from neighbours, friends and the emergency services.

“The neighbours came over and they were so helpful. I was just so distraught. I couldn’t do anything. I thought he was dead. I just totally froze with the shock,” she said.

The family admitted Zac owes his life to the professionalism of Cork's emergency services.

Now, the family have been flooded with offers of help to support Zac's recovery.

RedFM has offered the toddler two tickets to see his favourite team, Liverpool, next season.

Another person has offered the family use of a Canary Islands holiday home to offer the toddler a recuperative holiday.

Emergency services have promised to offer Zac tours of garda stations and fire brigade vehicles when he is better.

Gardaí recovered the abandoned Mazda car less than an hour after the hit and run.

A 17 year old male was arrested for questioning about the incident before being released without charge from the Bridewell Garda Station.

A file will be submitted by Gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Paul and Aisling appealed to anyone with information to support the Garda investigation into those involved in the hit and run.

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