The family of a young Multyfarnham man who fell from a cliff in New Zealand last month face an anxious wait to find out the extent of his injuries.
Cormac O’Brennan (20) was enjoying a weekend excursion with his friends when he fell 20m off a cliff on the outskirts of Christchurch on January 4.
The apprentice electrician, who moved to New Zealand on a work visa last September, was airlifted to hospital, where a portion his skull was removed to ease the pressure on his brain.
Five weeks on from the tragedy, Cormac remains in a critical condition in hospital.
While his parents, Paul and Helen, have been told that he suffered no spinal injuries, doctors are still unsure of the extent of his injuries.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner this week, Cormac’s sister, Aisling, revealed that if an off-duty medical professional had not been nearby when he fell, the outcome would have been even worse.
“It was pure luck that there was a paramedic on the beach who had their equipment with them and the first emergency responder was a police officer who was an ex-paramedic.
“We lost him three times [on the beach] and they managed to bring him back.
“We were originally told that he wasn’t going to pull through but thankfully they are still saying that,” she said.
Although he is now conscious after being put in an induced coma for two weeks after his fall, Cormac still hasn’t talked.
Doctors plan to begin his rehabilitation this week, and his family have been told that he faces a long and uncertain road to recovery.
His parents, Paul, who has been by Cormac’s beside since his fall, and mother Helen had hoped to bring Cormac home for his rehabilitation once the part of his skull that was removed was put back but doctors have advised against it, Aisling said.
Doctors in Christchurch say that Cormac should be able to return to Ireland some time in the summer.
“It can be more harmful to break rehab, they said, it’s just better to do everything over there.
“We are now in the fifth week. It’s been tough.
“Dad has been there since the start. He flew over straight away and my mum and my brother flew over a couple of days later. They have since come back and mum is going back this week.”
Aisling, who has started a fundraising campaign on the GoFundMe website, to help with the costs that will be incurred during Cormac’s long stay in hospital in New Zealand, says that her family have already received great support.
“The local people in Mullingar and Multyfarnham have been fantastic,” she said.
“I can’t even begin to describe how good they’ve been. There are probably very few people who don’t know Cormac, he’s just one of those people, everyone knows him.
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“The messages and phone calls have just flooded in, it’s been overwhelming.”
Although it will be a while before they know the extent of Cormac’s injuries, Aisling says that her brother is a “fighter” and she and her family remain confident that his rehab will go well.
“He does have movement in his limbs so it’s great that he has no spinal injuries.
“They are just trying to figure out what he can and can’t do with his brain. It’s just a kind of waiting game really,” she said.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the fundraising campaign for the O’Brennans can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/support-cormac-in-his-long-distance-battle.