'He is smiling. He is laughing': Cork toddler injured in hit-and-run 'doing well'

Zac Higgins in hospital in Dublin. Picture: Red FM

A toddler who was diagnosed with a brain injury after he was knocked down in a hit and run last month is sitting up, smiling and laughing but cannot yet speak or walk.

Zac Higgins, from Mahon in Cork city, has been diagnosed with a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) to the brain following the incident.

The two-year-old is currently being treated at Temple Street Hospital in Dublin for the brain injury.

His mother, Aishling Sexton, told the Neil Prendeville show on Cork's Red FM that while his long term condition remains uncertain they are feeling hopeful for his future.

He is doing well considering where he was last week. He wasn't even holding his head last week and he started sitting up this week. From that perspective he is doing great.

I am always asking what they (doctors) think the outcome will be with him and they just don't know. Because of the nature of that injury it is just a waiting game. We are hopeful.

Zac has a feeding tube but they are starting to spoon feed him.

Aishling says most importantly he is cheerful and on the mend.

"He is smiling. He is laughing. He knew his brother and sister when they came up to see him.

"I was playing Baby Shark on my phone and his whole face started to light up. All we can do is hope. It is going to be a long road. But it is better to have a long road than no road."

Meanwhile, 4,000 people turned out for a family fun day at Ringmahon Rangers football club in Cork on Easter Sunday raising €20,000 for Zac's continuing care.

Cork City FC are set to play the club in a friendly next month to raise funds for the toddler. Entry to the match on May 12 will be free, with donations accepted for those who attend.

Aishling has described the support as "unbelievable.” She says she is hugely appreciative of every contribution made.

“It is amazing. Unbelievable. My family are all soccer mad. My eldest son Max goes to all the Cork City games.”

Zac incurred serious injuries after being knocked down when he ran on to the road while playing with a ball at Castle Meadows, in Mahon, Cork city, on March 25. He was hit by a blue Mazda 6 which left the scene.

Zac Higgins with his father, Paul

A fundraising appeal was launched at Ringmahon Rangers in Mahon where Zac’s dad, Paul, is a treasurer.

Representatives of the club say that the father of three has been active onsite since he was a child himself. He dedicates huge amounts of time to coaching four to six-year-olds in the area.

Gardaí are to forward a file to the DPP after releasing without charge a 17-year-old man arrested for questioning about the hit and run.

Donations can be made to the Go Fund Me Page at here.

Payments can also be made through any bank using the following details: IBAN: IE48MICI99222419052804. BIC-MICIIE21

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