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Miracle Megan's inspiring tale

Saving Megan: A Temple Street Special (TV3) 24 Hours in A&E (Ch4) -- "Anyone in that situation would just carry on as normal," said Janice O'Mahony in Saving Megan: A Temple Street Special. I'm not so sure about that.

Janice's second daughter, Megan, was born in March, 2010 with a terrible cranio-facial deformity and a serious cleft in her lip and palate. As one of the medical team treating her bluntly put it, her nose was in the wrong place, her eyes were too far apart and her face was wide open.

Her skull was seriously misshapen, leaving too little room for her brain to develop and threatening her intellectual progress. Because her eyes were strained open all the time, they continually dried out.

Scraping of the corneas would eventually lead to blindness.

In the beginning, there was little hope that Megan would survive to full term.

When she was born a month early, delivered by C-section, there was even less hope she would live long.

Most parents, I suspect, would buckle in such a situation.

"I never gave up," said Janice, "I said, 'She will pull through'." Janice and her husband are both exceptional people, but exceptional people rarely realise they're exceptional.

There were other exceptional people in Saving Megan, not least Megan herself, who has borne endless rounds of major reconstructive surgery since her birth with tiny, innocent fortitude.

Professor Michael Earley, the hospital's consulting plastic surgeon, is exceptional, too.

On paper, Megan's case looked hopeless. But when Professor Earley looked at her, he saw a different picture.

"She was communicating in her own way and she had a lovely little personality," he said. The priority was to close the massive cleft in her lip, which ran right up to her eyes, followed by another one to close the cleft in her palate.

After that, months later, came major surgery to reshape her skull. It basically involved taking Megan's skull apart and putting it back together again. "It's a bit like a scaffold or a jigsaw puzzle," said cranio-facial surgeon Dr Dylan Murray.

The film followed every tortuous step of Megan's progress. It's gone brilliantly so far and Megan's appearance has been transformed from what it was, although there will be further procedures down the line.

The priority for now is to improve her communication skills.

"Megan has always been determined herself to recover after each procedure," said a beaming Dr Earley. "We don't doubt that she's a miracle," said Janice.

She's certainly the closest thing you'll find to one, anyway.

Exceptional is also the word to describe doctor Emer and senior nursing sister Jen, the stars of this week's episode of the superb 24 Hours in A&E. Both mothers, they've been friends and work colleagues for a long time. Though very different in personality (Jen is the sassier, spikier one), they're both brilliant at their jobs.

They need to be, given what they have to deal with. Being a Saturday night at London's King's College Hospital, there were a lot of drink-related cases, such as Clodagh, who'd tumbled backwards down eight steps and broken her arm, and an unnamed idiot who'd been bitten on the nose by "a mate".

There were other people there with far more serious injuries -- a young boy who'd fallen eight feet from a BMX ramp and landed on his head, a young man who'd crashed his motorcycle into a bollard, stripping a five-inch lump of flesh off his leg -- yet inevitably, these two clowns were the ones who made the loudest fuss.

Clodagh and her sister turned her comparatively minor injury into a weepy soap opera scene, while unnamed idiot stomped around the place, demanding to be seen so he could get back to the pub.

Emer and Jen took it all in their stride. Everyone recovered well, we were told at the end, although nothing was said about chomped-nose man.

I'd like to think his hungry friend came back and finished the job he'd started.

Saving Megan: A Temple Street Special 4/5 24hours in A&E 5/5