AMERICAN doctors said a County Limerick man had only a 5 per cent chance of surviving after he fell 60 feet onto concrete.
Miraculously 23-year-old Ger O’Sullivan’s spine, neck and brain were not damaged in the fall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
His parents, Maureen and William, flew to be by his side after the incident in July and they’ve been backed up by family and friends in Castleconnell. Maureen and William will not leave Ger until he is occupying the seat beside them on the plane ride home.
Ger, a Waterford IT student, headed to America on a J1 visa with over 30 friends. Many were employed by Zipline Adventures.
Ger’s sister, Niamh, said Ger worked as a guide on the zipwire attraction, securing harnesses on customers and directing them down the zipwire ride.
“Ger had secured a child into their harness when he stepped back and fell 60 feet to the ground. Ger was rushed to hospital where he underwent the first of many surgeries,” said Niamh.
Ger, the youngest of nine children, sustained multiple breaks - pelvis, elbow, ribs, legs and compound breaks to his ankles. He also experienced multiple organ failure as a result of the trauma - his heart stopped, lungs collapsed, kidneys stopped working and was placed on life support for weeks.
Ger’s friends rallied around him like “guardian angels”.
“They never left his side from the moment he was rushed to hospital. Sleeping on floors, in waiting rooms, getting updates from the doctors, keeping us updated and taking on the role of parents until our parents arrived in the US,” said Niamh.
Ger spent six weeks in ICU, five of those in an induced coma where respiratory issues arose.
The medical team struggled to stabilise his condition but at the end of August Ger was moved out of ICU into a ward. Ger is now undergoing medical care, rehabilitation physiotherapy and occupational therapy in a North Carolina hospital where the team there estimate he will need this level of intensive physiotherapy until December, and after he is released to come home.
Ger’s twin brother, Stephen, died in 2009 so it is the second tragedy to happen the O’Sullivan family.
A long road of recovery lays ahead for Ger but he is a determined young man and will meet this challenge head on. He will have operation number ten this week to set one of his broken legs.
Ger’s friends in Limerick and Waterford have raised funds for Ger’s recovery and his family are truly thankful. Castleconnell National School held a colours day and a committee made up of parents of Ger’s friends have been dedicating their time, talents and efforts to fundraise for Ger’s recovery.
A house to house collection has already been carried out. The generosity of the response has been overwhelming, said Niamh.
“Castleconnell and surrounding area communities have been generous beyond belief and the support from our families, friends and community has been immense.
“Also the support for my parents from the Irish community in Myrtle Beach and Wilmington as been immeasurable and for this we thank you from the bottom of our hearts especially in the difficult times we live in,” said Niamh.
Without the efforts of the trauma team in Grand Strand Medical Centre, Myrtle Beach, Niamh says Ger would not be with them today.
If you would to help The Ger O’Sullivan Benefit Fund email firstname.lastname@example.org or donate to Bank of Ireland, 125 O’Connell Street, sort Code: 90-43-09 ; account number: 14909960