Parents of 20-year-old GAA man who suffered stroke on pitch seeking public's help to raise funds

A Kildare couple are asking for the public's assistance in raising funds to treat their 20-year-old son who suffered a stroke last year, writes Ciara Phelan.

Adam Burke's life took a dramatic turn when he suffered a severe stroke during a GAA match in his home village of Two Mile House, Naas, Co Kildare.

Adam spent two weeks in a coma and doctors at Beaumont hospital told his parents Willie and Catherine Burke that their son may never walk, talk or communicate with them again.

Adam Burke who suffered a stroke during a football match last year. Pic: RTÉ Radio 1.
Adam Burke who suffered a stroke during a football match last year. Pic: RTÉ Radio 1.

Willie Burke, Adam's father, told Cormac O'hEadhra on RTÉ Radio 1 that he knew there was something wrong with his son when he locked eyes with him on the pitch.

"I just saw him getting a crunching tackle into his chest," he said.

"He was attended to on the ground, thankfully he got up but didn't take much part in the next few minutes (of the game) because it was coming up to half time.

"He came out in the second half and drifted his man over near us and our eyes met and I could just tell something was wrong, he was grey in the face.

"I don't know why I was tracking him, suddenly I just saw him out in midfield and he put his hand up to his head and then just fell gentle as you like onto the ground.

"I jumped over the fence and ran into him and took him by the hand and I could tell he was in terrible trouble."

Willie said his son was visibly ill on the pitch and noticed the right hand side of his body wasn't moving and that his son was unresponsive.

"We were telling him that we were here and that everything would be alright," Willie told Cormac O'hEadhra.

Adam's mother Catherine Burke spoke of how her son excelled at playing football, soccer and rugby and had been studying at UCD.

After arriving at Beaumont hospital, Catherine said doctors were waiting for Adam and told her instantly that her son was critically ill.

The family were told Adam's brain was swelling and he needed a life saving operation to remove his skull cap to allow his brain to swell naturally.

"We were given the news at that point that he had a 20% chance of living and if he did live that the chances of us communicating, walking, talking or interacting with us were very slim," said Catherine.

"I just prayed and wished he would come back to us, the whole family have gone through the mill and suffered but not as much as Adam has suffered.

"He was in a coma for two weeks. He was very sick when he came out of the coma. He gave us great hope after three days, he put his big left hand out around our necks and gave us a hug.

"He recognised us but his right side was paralysed but it gave us great hope and through those dark days a light was beginning to shine a little bit."

Willie and Catherine have been told that therapy to help Adam could cost around €1,000,000.

Willie explained how the local communities have rallied around the family to help organise fundraising events to raise money to get Adam the therapy that he needs.

When asked if he believed the therapy would help his son, Willie said because of Adam's age, there are possibilities that his brain can find new paths and ways of learning how to talk and move again.

"The therapy he needs is very expensive. He's a growing young man, his brain is able to find new paths and new ways and that's what the funding is really for," he explained.

The aim and reason for the fundraising is to help Adam reclaim full speech and mobility.

Adam himself then added that "the dream is alive."

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Adam's name and a 5k and 10k run will take place on September 30.

Marty Morrissey will host a panel show after with GAA stars and pundits in order to raise money for Adam.

Over €7,000 has been donated so far for Adam, you can donate here.

You can listen to the full interview with the Burke family below

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