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Thursday 17 October 2019

'I can still achieve whatever I want - I'm just going to do it sitting down instead of standing up' - Storm Emma fall victim Jack to move home

Accident: Jack O’Driscoll
Accident: Jack O’Driscoll

Ralph Riegel

A YOUNG sportsman left paralysed by a freak fall during Storm Emma revealed he is to move home within weeks as he said he was "in absolute awe" of the incredible support he has received since his accident.

Jack O'Driscoll (20) confirmed he may face further surgery in Dublin - but has been making steady progress thanks to intensive rehabilitation work and exercise in the gym.

"It is unbelievable the support I have received," he said.

"It is crazy the amount of people that get behind you - the support is unreal. I am absolutely in awe of it."

Jack O'Driscoll suffered a serious injury to his spine in the fall on March 1
Jack O'Driscoll suffered a serious injury to his spine in the fall on March 1

Jack's aim now to be able to achieve independent living - and to use a wheelchair, drive a car, be able to dress himself and return to college.

His comments came as he returned to his college, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), where his fellow students through the Students Union raised €15,000 to support his appeal fund.

Jack suffered a serious spinal injury in a fall on March 1 2018 as he was walking to his Mayfield home before Storm Emma struck.

He spent nine months in intensive treatment in Dublin before transferring back to a centre in Mahon in his native Cork last Christmas.

Jack O'Driscoll (19) is a keen sportsman
Jack O'Driscoll (19) is a keen sportsman

"The aim is over the next couple of weeks to get home," he said.

"The house is done - the equipment for me to be able to get out of the (wheelchair) into bed, I'm just waiting on that.

"I am starting to be able to hold my wrists up and get more control over my wrists. Every week there is some small goal, small achievements. I am getting something back every week.

"I am getting stronger all the time.

"My aim is to come back to college - I want to be as independent as I can, get myself in and out of a push chair, driving, getting myself dressed in the morning. One of my main aims obviously is to go back to college.

"I can still go out and achieve whatever I ever wanted to achieve.

"Fair enough - I got the injury and I have been left in a wheelchair.

"But I can go on and do whatever I want to in life - I am just going to do it sitting down instead of standing up."

The teen was the focus of a special GoFundMe appeal supported by Cork's 96FM which raised €139,380 in the space of nine months.

He was also a beneficiary of the Liam Miller memorial charity match at Pairc Uí Chaoimh last September between an Ireland XI and a Manchester United XI.

Some €100,000 from the match's €1.5m proceeds will go to the Jack O'Driscoll Fund which aims to convert Jack's Mayfield home and make it

suitable for his new lifestyle needs.

Extensive modifications have had to made to his Mayfield home - and once engineers and builders sign off on the works in a couple of weeks, Jack will move home for the first time in almost 18 months.

"I am trying to get a little bit more independence back every single day," he said.

"I am shocked by how far I have come. I can see over the last three or four months in the gym the progress I have made.

"But my ultimate aim is to be able to push a manual wheelchair and be able to transfer myself in and out of my chair."

Jack is an environmental science student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

A keen sportsman, he was walking to his Mayfield home in adherence with the red alert from Met Eireann before Storm Emma hit last spring when he suffered a freak fall in the snow and ice.

Tragically, the young man sustained a serious injury to his spine in the fall on March 1, which occurred two hours before the full storm warning came into effect.

Jack fractured the C5 vertebrae in his neck.

He has been left paralysed from the shoulders down but, thanks to surgery and intensive rehabilitation, has slowly been recovering some movement in his arms.

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