Bray People - - Get In Shape In 2009 - Mary FOG­A­RTY

FOR EIMEAR and Paul Brady in Kil­coole, this was a very spe­cial Christ­mas. Their son Alexan­der, now 6, broke his neck when he was 18 months old and doc­tors told them that his sur­vival was al­most a med­i­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity.

‘It could have been so dif­fer­ent,’ said Eimear, adding that their daugh­ter So­phie, (2) suf­fers from a heart con­di­tion. The cou­ple’s old­est boy Marc, (9) while healthy and well, also had a lot to deal with at a young age.

Alex fell four feet from a tree house in the back gar­den, with his mum stand­ing only ten feet away. She had turned her back on the boys for a mo­ment and didn’t see Alex land­ing on the top of his head.

‘I brought him to the doc­tors who said he was fine,’ she said. ‘He was con­scious. But I knew in my heart there was some­thing wrong.’ Later in Tal­laght an x-ray con­firmed that tod­dler Alex had frac­tured the C1 ver­te­bra.

‘It was like some­one had pushed a knife through my heart when I heard that,’ said Eimear. ‘Doc­tors were amazed that he had sur­vived and that he was not paral­ysed. It’s sim­ply a mir­a­cle.’

The child then had to wear a neck brace dur­ing his re­cov­ery, and was see­ing spe­cial­ist Ed­mund ‘Ozzy’ Fog­a­rty at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

Af­ter com­plain­ing of stiff­ness in his neck in Oc­to­ber 2007, Alex was sent by Mr. Fog­a­rty for an emer­gency MRI.

In De­cem­ber 2007 it was con­firmed that the young­ster had a rare con­di­tion called Of-odon­toideum, a space be­tween the C1 and C2 ver­te­brae.

This could have hap­pened as a re­sult of his in­jury, or it could have been there from birth, in any case the fall even­tu­ally un­cov­ered the fault.

‘He is like a cat with nine lives,’ said Eimear, de­scrib­ing her son’s brav­ery in the face of ma­jor surgery. Alex went in to the op­er­at­ing the­atre for seven hours in April, when a spe­cial­ist team took bone from his hip and put it in to the space be­tween the two ver­te­brae and wired the whole thing up.

The fol­low­ing day he had to go back down to have the screws in his head tight­ened. Eimear was shocked when she saw him, head shaved and with a larger wound than she ex­pected.

While this pro­ce­dure did not com­pletely cor­rect the prob­lem, it sta­bilised the spine, mak­ing life much safer for Alex. He had to wear a ‘halo’ to keep his neck sup­ported for months af­ter the rev­o­lu­tion­ary surgery.

He is left with just 60 per cent ro­ta­tion in his neck, more or less rul­ing out sport for him in the fu­ture, but his par­ents say that the im­por­tant thing is, of course, his life.

‘He will do some­thing else as a passtime,’ said Eimear. ‘What’s im­por­tant is he’s here and alive and walk­ing around.’

She added that he is re­mark­ably pa­tient about not be­ing able to go on a bounc­ing cas­tle or climb­ing frame. ‘He knows he is not al­lowed but said that he knows that’s the price he has to pay for be­ing alive,’ she said.

While the ac­ci­dent, and So­phie’s ill­ness, have put the Bradys un­der in­cred­i­ble pres­sure, it has also made their fam­ily stronger. Paul and Eimear have pulled to­gether un­der very try­ing cir­cum­stances, and Marc has dis­played tremendous pa­tience.

The over­whelm­ing feel­ing from the fam­ily is one of grat­i­tude that they are still to­gether and get­ting on with life. ‘If you think you have prob­lems, just go in to Crum­lin Hospi­tal for half a day,’ said Eimear. ‘We owe ev­ery­thing to con­sul­tants Jac­ques Noel, and Ed­mund Fog­a­rty,’ she added.

The bat­tle is not over for Alex, who faces an­other op­er­a­tion in Jan­uary be­cause a piece of wire is cut­ting in to his neck and caus­ing him a great deal of pain. ‘It’s be­cause of his per­son­al­ity that he sur­vived,’ said Eimear. ‘Alex is a lit­tle fighter, and an un­be­liev­able charmer!’

The Brady fam­ily - So­phie, Paul, Marc, Alex, and Eimear.

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