Monday 25 March 2019

'Warrior princess' Hannah is defying experts

Delight at plans to bring Hannah Donnelly (17) back to her hometown for further treatment

Hannah (17) with her dad Michael Donnelly and supporters
Hannah (17) with her dad Michael Donnelly and supporters

Alison Comyn

Hannah ‘The Warrior Princess’ is certainly living up to her sobriquet by battling her debilitating condition, and defying doctors who said she may never breathe unaided again.

Indeed, such is her determination that a minor miracle means she can now be moved from Temple Street hospital, where she has been since March 2017, back to the Lourdes hospital in her hometown of Drogheda.

“She has a long road ahead, but this is great news for Hannah and all her family and friends,” says her dad Mike Donnelly.

“Hannah is in the process of being discharged from Temple Street and all going well, within the next month or so, will be going to the Lourdes while the homecare package is been sorted.”

The vivacious 17-year-old suffered a major setback in March of last year, when she went in to hospital for spinal surgery walking and talking but complications arose, and she ended up with an emergency tracheotomy and became paralysed from critical illness myophady and critical illness polyneuropathy.

“Hannah was effectively affected by locked-in syndrome for seven months, and she is still unable to move or talk, which is very frustrating for such a bright young woman but being off the ventilator means she can breathe by herself and can be moved closer to home,” says her father.

“Being in Dublin for so long has been very isolating for her at times and being back in Drogheda will make a huge difference to her, as her family and friends can visit even more often, especially her little sister Keelin (9) who misses her terribly.”

Hannah was born on Valentine’s Day in 2001 with a rare genetic condition called Apert Syndrome which causes fusion of bones prenatally and prevents normal growth of the skull and face.

Over the last 17 years, Hannah’s health has been extremely inconsistent, and she has had more than 40 operations and skin grafts.

But this never stopped - in her dad’s words - the ‘little battler’, and training since the age of three, Hannah earned the nickname Warrior Princess after becoming the first person in Europe to receive a black belt in Superfoot Karate at 12.

“We are all so grateful to the community in Drogheda which has raised so much money for Hannah to return to her home,” adds Mike, a martial arts expert who runs an academy in town.

“The good news there too is the house in Newfield is now full adapted for when she can leave hospital for good and come home, and even though she will need rehab and then constant care, the future looks great for Hannah.”

Drogheda Independent