Young sportsman (20) paralysed by fall during Storm Emma returns home for Christmas
A CHRISTMAS wish has come true for a young sportsman left paralysed after a freak fall during Storm Emma.
Jack O'Driscoll (20) has returned home to his native Cork in time for Christmas some nine months after his life-changing fall.
The young man from Mayfield had been in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) at the Mater Hospital in Dublin before transferring to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
Jack, a keen sportsman, was walking to his Mayfield home in Cork 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 suffered 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.
Now, Jack's wish of returning to Cork in time for Christmas has been fulfilled. His cousin, Daniel Dilworth, said the former GAA and soccer player has stunned everyone with both his courage and determination.
"We fully realise what Jack could be left with," he said.
"Because the injury is in the spinal cord it takes a bit of time for the bruising and swelling to go down."
"It is a journey that has been going on for a couple of months now but we are beginning to see real improvements in Jack."
"It will then come to a point where it will plateau and we will see what Jack will have for the rest of his life."
"But Jack is getting on with it - he is positive, he is determined and he is driving on."
Jack 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.