By Roisin Burke
A 19-YEAR-OLD sports fanatic, who became paralysed from the chest down after a freak accident during Storm Emma, is hoping to regain movement in his arms and chest in the months ahead all thanks to the financial help of friends, family and the public.
Over €75,000 has been raised for Jack O’Driscoll - at the time of writing - through a Go Fund Me page set up by his extended family and support from a host of national and international celebrities and sports stars, including Dancing With The Stars Anna Geary.
Jack O’Driscoll’s cousin Brian Punch said Jack’s extended family set up a Go Fund Me page following an influx of people offering to donate and help in any way they could.
“We had people who had heard what happened leaving money at the reception of CUH for him and so many people texting and emailing that we set up a page so we would have somewhere to direct everyone.”
Brian said they never expected to get the reaction they did. “Footballer John Egan, who plays in the English Championship, Snapchatter Buff Egan, Malcolm Jenkins from the Philadelphia Eagles, Dancing With The Stars celebrity Anna Geary, Cork GAA star Eoin Cadogan, boxer Spike O’Sullivan, GAA star Brendan Cummins, footballer Paul Kerrigan, all lent their support, the response has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Jack was an extremely active young man who played soccer and GAA locally as well as football at CIT where he had just finished his first semester in engineering.
The teenager, who will turn 20 at the start of April, was playing with friends in the snow on March 1 when he fractured the C5 vertebrae in his neck, resulting in paralysis.
Jack was taken to CUH, but due to the extent of his injuries, he had to be taken straight to the Mater hospital in Dublin. Because of the ongoing blizzard as Storm Emma hit, the journey took five and a half hours to complete.
Jack is still in the Mater but hopes to start treatment in the national Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire soon.
Brian said that Jack was supposed to have surgery that night, but because he took so long to get to Dublin, he ended up having surgery the next morning. He added that Jack’s family — mother Deirdre, dad Paul and sister Lauren — are waiting to see the extent of his injuries.
“We are waiting for the swelling to go down, which will take between six to eight weeks. Then we will know more about the extent of his injuries. At the moment Jack is on a ventilator which is breathing for him and he has movement in his shoulders and some in his arms.”
Brian also said Jack was keeping the family going with his upbeat attitude. “His own outlook is helping everyone else. He would blow you away with his positive attitude. We all just want to help him achieve whatever is physically possible.”
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.