Limavady couple reunited with hero doctor 21 years after life saving surgery

Co. Down Consultant Neurosurgeon, Dr Gerry O'Reilly.
Co. Down Consultant Neurosurgeon, Dr Gerry O'Reilly.

A Limavady couple has been reunited with the hero doctor who helped save their daughter’s life 21 years ago thanks to a ‘Derry Journal’ appeal.

Hazel and Trevor Patterson’s daughter Amy was 18 months old when she was diagnosed with a rare spinal chord tumour.

Amy Patterson with her mum, Hazel. INLV4315-014KDR

Amy Patterson with her mum, Hazel. INLV4315-014KDR

Hazel and husband Trevor were left devastated when they were told there was nothing that could be done, but then came a breakthrough from surgeon Tony Hockley who said he thought he could help the tot. It was at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where the family then met Gerry O’Reilly who operated on Amy with Mr Hockley. Hazel said Gerry, from Downpatrick, was working as a Senior Registrar at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital at the time, in 1996.

Recently turned 21, and in her final year at the University of Ulster Jordanstown where she is studying Language and Linguistics, Amy is living life to the full.

Sadly, said Hazel, Mr Hockley has passed away but, just last week, Hazel made an appeal through the ‘Journal’ to make contact with Gerry O’Reilly, who works at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital in Yorkshire as a Consultant Neurosurgeon.

The appeal worked and contact was made at the weekend.

It was very emotional because they were very dark days.

Hazel Patterson

“It was lovely,” said Hazel. “It was very emotional because they were very dark days. It was a step back in time because Gerry walked that journey with us. We are dying to meet him and we hope to do that in December. It’s perfect and we can’t wait to be re-united.”

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Gerry O’Reilly said: “I would to like to express my thanks to the ‘Derry Journal’ on the wonderful article relating to the inspirational Amy Patterson featured on October 14th and for enabling me to hook up with the family after so many years. After reading the narrative I was overcome with a vast array of emotions, but mainly those of pride and delight.

“Amy at a very young age developed a severe problem that mandated long and repetitive surgeries. She and her parents Trevor and Hazel were in an incredibly dark and difficult place for a protracted period as a consequence. Whilst ultimately very successful the journey had many trials and tribulations. Throughout the setbacks and challenging times the family carried themselves with a dignity and serenity that was to behold them. They were always respectful and appreciative to all.”

The Pattersons and Gerry O’Reilly plan to reunite in Limavady.

“Shortly after the article was published I was tracked down via a circuitous route by a friend of the Patterson family and obtained contact details for Trevor and Amy. In due course we had a wonderful conversation together and I was able to speak to Amy who was in Univeristy in Belfast by linking up two phones in the homestead in Limavady.

“The years just melted away in our talks as we regressed and reminisced about the past. I intend to journey to see the family in December and get some of them big hugs that Amy and Hazel promised in the ‘Derry Journal’ article. Also I am going to give that Trevor a real man-hug. I’m looking forward immensely to meeting up after so many years and thanks again to the ‘Journal’ for making it happen.”

See original appeal here