County Derry boy Sean Deighan turned seven on Saturday, but the birthday celebration was far from what the youngster had wished for.
Two days previously, Sean had undergone heart surgery at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin in Dublin where he had a defibrillator-pacemaker implanted in his heart.
The youngster’s heart stopped when he was with his dad during the Easter holidays. He was given life saving CPR by his mum Orlagh, who is fully trained, his dad Darragh and his partner, Sharon.
Back in The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Sean’s mum, Orlagh said her “inspirational” son is doing well, but still has a long road ahead of him.
The St Colmcille’s PS, Claudy, pupil will undergo a series of tests this week, and his loved ones will have a clearer picture of what life from here on in will be like.
“He was in a lot of pain after the surgery but he is doing well, and moving around. He was seven on Saturday but he was in bad form and he couldn’t eat anything. He told the nurse to pretend it wasn’t his birthday!” said Orlagh.
Orlagh said looking back over the past few weeks, she cannot believe what her son has come through.
“He was gone, but he’s still alive. I can’t believe what happened, or why it happened, but he’s here,” she said. “He’s a real wee inspiration!”
Orlagh said what happened to Sean can happen to any family. She wants to do what she can to raise awareness about the importance of CPR training.
“Especially for people who have children, you need to know what to do. I never ever thought it would happen to us, but it did. It can happen to anyone,” said Orlagh, who expressed her gratitude to Sean’s school for their support.
“His school friends and the teachers have been fantastic, and they sent him a video of the class singing ‘Happy Birthday’, which gave him a real boost,” said Orlagh.
The school also held a fundraising concert to raise funds for a defibrillator.
St Colmcille’s PS principal, Briege O’Neill said: “We feel it’s time to have a defibrillator in the school because unfortunately we had a child - Sean - who had a cardiac arrest during the Easter holidays, and it brought home to us the great need in having such a life saving device in the school.”
See pages 20 and 21 for photos from the fundrausing concert.