Three-year-old Zac Higgins opens Cork On Ice

A little boy beams up at his mum, Bambi legs bending as he skates around Cork’s new ice rink.

Three-year-old Zac Higgins opens Cork On Ice

A little boy beams up at his mum, Bambi legs bending as he skates around Cork’s new ice rink.

Looking at him now, no one could imagine the horror that “miracle” three-year-old Zac Higgins has been through since he was almost killed in a hit-and-run outside his home in Mahon last March.

“He’s only just walking again, I can’t believe he’s skating now,” says mum Aishling Sexton as she watches her son glide by with his dad Paul.

“I’m convinced that it’s a miracle.

“He couldn’t walk, or talk, or see. He couldn’t even hold his head up. Another boy was in Temple Street [Children’s] Hospital with the same injuries at the same time as Zac and he’s still there, still unable to walk. Zac really is a miracle.”

Zac was hit by a car when he chased his ball onto the usually quiet street outside his home.

Aishling’s nightmare began when she found Zac lying motionless just outside their ho me in Castle Meadows, Mahon, his little head bleeding.

He was rushed to hospital and spent weeks in a coma in Temple Street as his family kept a vigil by his bedside, praying he would wake up.

And their miracle boy did wake up.

Zac Higgins with his dad Paul at the opening of Cork On Ice at Centre Park Road, Cork.  Pic: Larry Cummins.
Zac Higgins with his dad Paul at the opening of Cork On Ice at Centre Park Road, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins.

Aishling said a major turning point was when he sat up again himself for the first time.

“It was a really sunny day in Dublin, we hadn’t been out of the hospital at all and staff there told us to get out for a walk.

“I wasn’t very religious before but when you have nothing you need to find something.

I found this beautiful church and got him blessed. Then we went to a park. I put him on a blanket on the grass to play with him and suddenly he started to sit up.

“He hadn’t been able to move before that. Not at all. He couldn’t even pick something up. He couldn’t see.

“He still had splints on his hands and legs. I was elated. I couldn’t believe it.

“I called his [occupational therapists] and physios and they couldn’t believe it either.”

Since then Zac has returned to the robust little boy he once was. He cut the ribbon as the guest of honour at the opening of Cork on Ice on Centre Park Rd.

Zac Higgins with his dad Paul at the opening of Cork On Ice at Centre Park Road, Cork.  Pic: Larry Cummins.
Zac Higgins with his dad Paul at the opening of Cork On Ice at Centre Park Road, Cork. Pic: Larry Cummins.

Between giggling with siblings Max and Belle, he fitted in a skate and smiled for the cameras.

But his battle is not yet over.

“Physically he’s very strong,” said Aishling.

It’s more cognitive now. Will he go to mainstream school now? We don’t know. He has a brain injury so he may have learning disabilities.

"But he’s in preschool now and he gets physio and [occupational therapy]. We’re hopeful.”

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