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Boy left brain damaged after falling into pond 11 years ago sadly dies


Sean Ross McGowan

Sean Ross McGowan

Sean Ross McGowan

A young boy who was left with severe brain damage after falling into a pond while on a creche outing 11 years ago has died.

Sean Ross McGowan, who was just 21 months old at the time of the incident, almost drowned in a pond at Ranelagh Park.

He fell into the water unnoticed while on a day out with Miss Carr's Children's Home in 2007.

A doctor passing the pond some five minutes later spotted the toddler who wasn't breathing and quickly administered CPR, ultimately saving Sean's life.


However, he was left permanently brain damaged, suffering from seizures and blindness.

At the time, he was given just four years to live.

In recent years, Sean's condition worsened as he suffered a number of heart attacks, leading to doctors reducing his dosage of medication.

He faced a decrease in his quality of his life and required round-the-clock care as epileptic fits and respiratory difficulties became more frequent.

Last week, Sean's parents Rose Houlihan and John McGowan were told that his breathing was quickly going downhill.

At around 7am yesterday he died with his parents by his side at the Laura Lynn-run Sunshine Care Home where he was being cared for.

"On Friday we got the word that his breathing was deteriorating and by Sunday he was completely incapacitated, drifting in and out of consciousness," a close family member said.

The relative said they were devastated Sean had died but added that he had been in a lot of pain in recent months.

"In the past three years the epileptic fits became a massive issue and there were issues surrounding his heart," the family member said.

"He was left in a vegetative state and severely brain damaged.

"He couldn't eat or chew. He had about six or seven heart attacks in his life.

"There is a degree of relief that he isn't in pain but there is devastation at the loss of their child.

"The challenge is in the next few months in piecing together their lives."

Rose Houlihan took a case on Sean's behalf against Miss Carr's Children's Home and the HSE which funded the centre.

Liability was accepted after Sean's mother claimed negligence and breach of duty against the centre.

The High Court was told that a settlement of €650,000 was accepted.

During the case, Mr Justice Sean Ryan rejected a €550,000 offer as insufficient.


The court heard how Sean required 24-hour care.

The judge told the court it was hard to think of a more appalling cluster of injuries than those suffered by Sean.

He said these injuries had the most devastating consequences for him.

The court was also told that the HSE had committed to providing Sean with the care he required.

Also during the hearing his father expressed displeasure with how gardai had investigated the case.

Speaking outside the court, Mr McGowan made a statement critical of the HSE for not apologising for what had happened.

A separate action by Ms Houlihan claiming damages for post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive disorder, nervous shock and nightmares against the defendants, arising from what had happened to Sean, was also settled.