The mother of a Limavady youngster who has made a remarkable recovery from a severe spinal injury has spoken of her pride.
Dillon O’Kane was just 14 when he suffered a severe neck injury - two fractured bones and a dislocated vertebra. He told the Sentinel he suffered the neck injury when he was ‘messing around’ with a friend and had to spend over a week in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
His mother, Sharon, said he narrowly avoided having to undergo major surgery. He had to spend six months making weekly visits to hospital.
Now, just two years down the line, Dillon has recovered enough to show incredible athletic prowess. He plays for Limavady Wolfhounds GAC and gets up at 5am every morning to train at a local gym.
The 16-year-old told the Sentinel about his incredible recovery: “It was bad enough. I had two fractures in the neck and a dislocation. Me and a friend were messing about and whatever happened, he came down and he landed right on my neck.
“I had to stay in a bed for a week. I was strapped down for the full time - I really couldn’t move. I couldn’t go to the toilet or anything.
“I was in for a week and a half and then I had to recuperate at home after that. I played Gaelic football for the Wolfhounds before that happened but obviously I had to stop.
“I’m able to play again now and I’ve been able to start going to the gym, to NSpire fitness in Limavady. I haven’t really been doing any specific exercises on my neck or anything like that - it’s just been getting stronger on its own. My brother goes to the gym so I just started going along with him.
“I would say it probably has helped me get better and feel stronger. I’m able to do more and more as time goes on. I could just feel it getting stronger the whole time. You can still feel it a wee bit sometimes but I’m definitely able to more and more.
“I’m glad to be able to do what I can now. I’ve come a long way from what I was like two years ago when I wasn’t able to move at all.”
His mother, Sharon, said: “He was really badly hurt - the bone was dislocated and everything. At first when he came in saying that his neck was sore and we didn’t really think too much of it. You know, with young fellas at that age you sort of get used to things like that happening.
“We didn’t realise just how bad it really was - they blue-lighted him up to the Royal up in Belfast. He was originally going to have to get surgery - the cage thing screwed on. He avoided having to get the surgery because he was really good and he didn’t move around for the full week.
“They got all these braces and things set up for him. The released him but he still wasn’t allowed to move around. He was back up every week then for about six months for check-ups and things. He was off school for a long time and he couldn’t play any sports. It’s been a long way for him but he’s been brilliant.
“He gets up at about five in the morning every day to go to the gym. There’s really no bother with him at all - he’s back at the Gaelic, he is in the gym and he doesn’t be about the town causing any bother.
“He’s been great and it has been a great recovery for him too.”