Loving parents’ hopes for Declan

Loving parents’ hopes for Declan

12 December 2012

CHRISTMAS is a time for families and Christmas Day this year will be a special one for the McMullan family from Saintfield whose son Declan will be allowed home from Musgrave Park Hospital to be with his loved ones for a few hours.

Last March, the 20 year-old “died” following a cardiac arrest in his Crossgar Road home, but his father John and paramedics miraculously battled to revive him.

Declan has been in hospital since then and requires 24-hour care. He has brain damage and suffers from profound physical disability. He is unable to eat, speak, move and see and is confined to a wheelchair.

But he can communicate with his family and medical staff by blinking and can hear what people are saying. Declan can also spell words by blinking through the alphabet.

While Declan will be home for a few hours on Christmas Day, his parents John and Brenda want him back with them and the rest of the family on a permanent basis.

But before that can happen, they have to raise £50,000 to pay for special adaptations to their home so Declan can be with them.

A number of fundraising events have already been organised and more are planned, with Declan’s parents admitting they have been “overwhelmed and humbled” by people’s generosity and support.

The money which has been raised to date has enabled the family to purchase a specially adapted vehicle to transport their wheelchair-bound son around. Their next target is to raise the money to finance their home adaptation.

The McMullan family’s world was turned upside down last March when Declan suffered a cardiac arrest caused by an underlying heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

His father John administered CPR before paramedics arrived after Brenda discovered her son’s lifeless body. Declan was off school and his mother did not normally go into his room in the morning, but for some reason that day as soon as she got out of bed she went straight to her son.

She said Declan had been feeling unwell the day before and had also been to Coleraine University for an interview. That night, her son had been up a few times feeling sick.

“The following morning when I awoke something made me go into Declan’s room. I don’t know why I did as it’s not something I’d normally do. He was lying in an odd shape and I knew right away something was wrong. I called his name and got no answer.

“Fear came over me and when I touched his hand it was cold and I could see no movement in his chest. I called for John and rang for an ambulance and everything after that is a blur to me,” explained Brenda.

Declan’s father administered CPR until the paramedics arrived and in so doing helped preserve most of his son’s organ and brain functions. But Declan was left with brain damage.

He was given 13 electrical shocks by paramedics before he started breathing again and was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he was put into an induced coma and his body temperature cooled.

Three days after he was admitted, hospital staff suggested to the McMullan family switching off Declan’s life support machine to allow him to pass away peacefully.

“We spoke to Declan and told him to fight and he slowly started to come around. A week after being asked to turn his life support off Declan was starting to breath on his own,” said Brenda. “Our son was starting to fight back, bit by bit.”

Declan was subsequently moved to Musgrave Park where he has been for nearly six months and now the McMullan family want their son home with them.

While Declan has been back home for a few visits, his parents and family want him with them all the time. As he’s in a wheelchair, Declan can only access one room at the family home and occupational therapists have advised John and Brenda on the changes they need to make.

They added: “Like any parents, we want our son home for Christmas to be with the rest of the family. We know the work we have to carry out to our home and the fundraising support we have received from people has been phenomenal.

“People have been so generous and their kindness has blown us away. We are overwhelmed and humbled by what others are doing for Declan. We are really seeing the best in people and we cannot thank them enough for their support.

“We do have our rough times, but we take one day at a time in the hope that Declan will improve. He is an amazing young man with a long journey ahead and we will travel that road with him.”

• John McMullan can be contacted on 07740 510 111.