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'Miracle' teen Odhran McKenna pays tribute to hero medics who pulled him from very edge of death

Young GAA player in horror car smash meets hospital team that battled to save him

By Cate McCurry

Published 28/06/2016

Odhran McKenna and the medical team, Frank Armstrong (divisional training officer); Mark Anderson (clinical support officer); Dr Jonathan Dawson (trauma and prehospital medicine fellow); Karl Bloomer (paramedic); Mark Cochrane (area manager for the Southern Division), and Jill Lamberton (emergency medical technician)
Odhran McKenna and the medical team, Frank Armstrong (divisional training officer); Mark Anderson (clinical support officer); Dr Jonathan Dawson (trauma and prehospital medicine fellow); Karl Bloomer (paramedic); Mark Cochrane (area manager for the Southern Division), and Jill Lamberton (emergency medical technician)
Odhran McKenna meet members of the medical crew who attended the scene of the road traffic collision

A young GAA player who was minutes from death after suffering a massive brain injury in a car crash has spoken of the "surreal" moment he met the medics who saved his life.

Odhran McKenna (17) - a talented member of St John's GAA club in west Belfast - was severely injured when his car left the road and hit a tree in Crumlin, Co Antrim, on February 26.

His family prepared for the worst as doctors told his devastated parents he had sustained an horrific brain injury that would leave him dead or severely disabled.

However, only eight days later the "miracle" teen was sitting up in his hospital bed eating toast, surrounded by his family.

In the minutes following the crash a rapid response vehicle was sent to the scene.

The crew included Dr Jonathan Dawson and paramedics Mark Anderson and Karl Bloomer.

This team combination of doctor and paramedics works together only one day a week and it was down to their specific medical skills that saved Odhran's life.

The St Mary's Grammar pupil, whose remarkable recovery has baffled medics, told of the moment he woke up in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"I remember nothing of the car crash, only about five hours before it when I was in school," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I remember waking up in hospital and thought I was skiing in Switzerland - I was just so confused.

"It is really surreal to meet the people that saved my life.

"I was very lucky that Dr Dawson was on that day.

"I have been told that's what saved my life - that if he wasn't able to intubate me I would have died.

"But I am the kind of person that, if something doesn't happen, it doesn't for a reason.

"I have moved on and got that out of my mind.

"I will live life to the fullest and be thankful. The amount of support I've had from people from all walks of life, from all over the world, has been amazing."

The sportsman, who sat an AS-level only two weeks ago, hopes to return to the football pitch by August.

His parents Sonia and Michael said it was a miracle he was alive.

"Really, he should have been dead," Sonia said.

Michael, who is a member of the Fire and Rescue Service, got a phone call from his colleagues on the day of the accident to say it was his son.

Sonia added: "When he was in the intensive care unit they gave us the worst news, they basically told me he wasn't going to make it.

"It was horrible from then on. It felt like years for us.

"The support of family and friends got him through this.

"All we wanted was for him to be alive and to have our son back.

"We owe the medical staff our lives. He's a miracle. We are blessed."

Dr Dawson, who treated Odhran at the scene, said there were very few patients who suffered a similar brain injury and survived.

"It was very obvious from the scene that he was critically unwell and had suffered a traumatic brain injury," he added.

"Unless he got the right treatment very quickly he would have ended up dead, disabled or in a nursing home."

The family would like to thank their wider family and friends, the medical team who treated Odhran, and all those who prayed for his recovery.

Belfast Telegraph

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