There’s nothing to top a bit of tea and sympathy — except perhaps a trolley dash and sympathy — which is what Arron O’Leary, 11, had to look forward to after his double lung transplant.
When his frazzled dad Paul arrived in Britain on December 7 for what turned out to be, literally, the trip of a lifetime, he did so with just the clothes on his back and no sterling in his pockets.
He’d been at Cork University Hospital visiting his son, who has cystic fibrosis, when the call came that a set of donor lungs was waiting for Arron at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
“That evening, after arriving in the UK, I strolled over to Sainsbury’s in South Gosforth, thinking I might be able to get some sterling there, and I got talking to the manager, Lee,” said Paul.
“I explained why I’d arrived with no money and he was very sympathetic. He said when Arron was well enough, to bring him over and he could do a trolley dash paid for by Sainsbury’s.”
Five weeks later, Arron was up and about and over in Sainsbury’s taking up their generous offer. Far from loading up with goodies though, he selected just two bars of chocolate. Staff got stuck in to add to his shopping cart, and in the end he had a generous basket of goodies, along with a pirate chest stuffed with more delights, including Star Wars paraphernalia. “They made his day,” Paul said.
Arron, from Ballinhassig, Cork, also made it to the Newcastle Museum of Natural History yesterday and Paul said they are hopeful of travelling home next week.
“You wouldn’t believe the transformation. Before the operation his breathing sounded like he was walking around with his lips closed, breathing through a straw. He could only shuffle about. Now you can hear him breathing clearly.”
Paul said the transplant was “in the nick of time”.
“It’s an awful weight off our shoulders. We were running out of time and we’ll be forever grateful to the donor.”
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