Dungiven teenager Ryan O’Connor continues to amaze family and friends after taking his first steps just months after tragically losing his legs after a heart transplant.
The brave 18-year-old received the life saving transplant last November, but due to complications after the operation Ryan had to have both legs amputated. It was a devstating blow, but the teen returned home in February after a lengthy stay in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne determined to make the most of his new life.
In March, Ryan began an intensive rehabilitation programme at Musgrave Park Hospital, where proud mum Donna said he surprised and impressed staff.
In typical ‘Ryan fashion’, laid back and taking it all in his stride, he took his first few steps using prosthetic legs last week. To begin with, Ryan used a zimmer frame to walk, but has now progressed to using crutches as aids.
“Everyone thought it would take much longer, so everyone at Musgrave is surprised to see Ryan doing what he has in such a short space of time, but that’s Ryan,” mum Donna told the ‘Journal’ yesterday. “He’s back on his feet again and it’s really amazing and, to be honest, I am in awe at everything he does.”
Watching Ryan make remarkable progress was his dad Declan, and little brother Tiernan.
“It’s funny because Tiernan took it very strange when Ryan came home and had no legs, but then he got used to it. Now, seeing Ryan walk is odd for Tiernan and he keeps pushing the wheelchair towards Ryan!” said Donna.
Ryan is due home this week where he will spend another four weeks getting used to using shorter legs. After that, the plan is for Ryan to return to Musgrave where he will have a knee joint fitted, so his legs will be able to bend.
“It’s be great to have Ryan home, but I worry for him too,” said Donna, “but Ryan is so matter of fact. He met a fellow who has C-legs and he is able to do lots of normal, everyday things, like learning to drive. That is what Ryan is aiming for,” says Donna, who said her son has a steely determination that makes him “just get on with things”.
“We’re all just overwhelmed, but Ryan is so laid back!” said Donna, “and, of course, when I saw Ryan walking I cried, but they were happy tears!”