Ryan in determined battle to walk again

Ryan O'Connor with his nana Cooke on St. Patrick's Day in hospital.
Ryan O'Connor with his nana Cooke on St. Patrick's Day in hospital.

Dungiven lad Ryan O’Connor is “100 per cent determined to walk again”, despite a surgery setback.

The 20-year-old’s battle began almost two years ago.

Ryan, who was born with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), had a long awaited heart transplant in November 2012.

Following the transplant he had a cardiac arrest and, later, tragically had to have both legs amputated from above the knee.

The amputation was initially a success, but Ryan later suffered an aneurysm as his body adjusted to the new heart.

Ryan had been making great progress thanks to rehabilitation at Musgrave Park, and was walking using his prosthetic limbs.

However, severe pain in his left leg was problematic, and halted progress using his prosthetics. He was due to have a femoral artery bypass on Monday, which would have allowed him to use his prothetic limbs again.

However, surgeons decided against the bypass as it was deemed too risky.

In typical Ryan spirit, the 20-year-old says he will not be defeated.

“Well, pain or not, I’m still gonna battle through and, yes, I am 100% determind to walk,” Ryan told the ‘Journal’ from his hspital bed in Belfast.

“I know I will walk again. It will take time, yes, but I am still ready to battle on.”

As Ryan shared the news on social media, via his Facebook page, he was flooded with comments from friends wishing him well.

“Love you Ryan - keep us updated as much as possible! U r one of the strongest people i know and look up to if not the strongest! (sic)” read one post.

Since Ryan had his transplant, Ryan has been overwhelmed with the kindness of people and their interest in his life changing journey.

“I would like to thank every single person over here, and abroad, for their fantastic support,” he said.

Ryan plays hurling for Ulster GAA and basketball for the North West Eagles.

He was recently presented with a lightweight sports wheelchair from Northern Ireland soccer manager Michael O’Neill, who is patron of JTinspires, a charity aiming to improve the lives of young people with congenital heart problems.

Ryan is positive there will be a “plan B” to allow him to achieve his goals.

“Finally my life can and will move forward. Pain or not, I’m still aiming to use my legs,” he said.

Ryan refuses to let the surgery knock back set him back.

Referring to the surgeons at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, he said: “They did what they could, and that’s all I could ask.”

He added: “The main thing is, I can set my goals now.”