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A Dad with a Difference


A Dad with a Difference


by Áine Ní Shionnaigh


“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. (Victor Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning). In my life experience so far, no one has epitomized this ability to turn a personal tragedy into a triumph, better than Patrick Donohue, Irish American, prominent lawyer, finance director, visionary, and Dad of Sarah Jane Donohue.

Patrick and I have something in common: we are both parents of children who suffered a brain injury and we are both 100% committed to helping them live the best lives that they possibly can.

In December 2006 when sending my annual Christmas letter to friends and family back in Ireland, I enclosed a poem as I felt it helped to explain the unexplainable. The poem was titled “Welcome to Holland”, which was written by Emily Kingsley, about having a child with a disability. The essay employs a metaphor of excitement for a vacation to Italy that becomes a disappointment when the plane lands instead in Holland. “Holland?!?” you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." The metaphor is that the trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs. “But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." In the end, however, the reader sees that the ‘trip’ is still well worth it: “But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.”

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Interestingly these are the same lines Patrick Donohue recently chose as the opening lines for the short documentary he made to introduce iHOPE, his pioneering new school for children with brain injuries. Nine years ago on June 5th, also Patrick’s own Birthday, Sarah Jane Donohue was born at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill hospital, a healthy, happy baby with stunning brown eyes framed by exotic dark thick lashes. All was well with the world, or so it seemed. Tragically, 5 days later when Sarah Jane was in the safety of her own home, with her parents sleeping in the next room, she was violently shaken by her baby nurse, causing serious injury: breaking both her collarbones, four ribs and causing a severe Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury – PABI. Doctors were shocked at the severity of her injuries. On that night, Sarah Jane’s life and that of her family changed forever.

Gradually Patrick Donohue began a new career “changing the world for Sarah Jane”. He began by setting up a nonprofit advocacy group, The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in 2007. Then in 2009, he put together an advisory board that drew together 75 experts in the field of brain injury from all over the US and Canada. The mission is to create a model system of care for children and young adults suffering from all Pediatric Acquired Brain Injuries in order to advance our knowledge of the brain fifty years over the next five years. This past September, Patrick founded the first school in NYC for children who have suffered a brain injury, iHOPE, the International Academy of Hope, which is groundbreaking in it’s treatment and approach to children with brain injuries. Sarah Jane attends this school as does my daughter, Grace Anne and it is changing their lives dramatically one day at the time. www.ihopenyc.org www.thebrainproject.org

When we face great challenges in our lives, we have two choices, we can lie down and let the challenge overcome us or we can decide to draw on an inner strength we didn't know we had and continue our lives, armed with the determination that we are not going to let this adversity define us.

As Joe Biden recently said at an Irish American event here in New York : “there is something uniquely Irish about maintaining hope in light of tragedy, that the Irish know “that to live is to be hurt, but we’re still not afraid to live.”

To be continued next week ……

"Ní mór dúinn dearmad a dhéanamh gur féidir linn brí a fháil sa saol, fiú nuair déileáil le staid gan dóchas, nuair atá os ár gcomhair cinniúint nach féidir a athrú. Chun an méid sin ábhair is finné a iompróidh an acmhainneacht uathúil daonna ag a fearr, a bhfuil a chlaochlú tragóid pearsanta i bua, dul amháin isteach éacht daonna. (Victor Frankl). I mo shaoil go dtí seo, níl aon duine eiseamláir seo cumas chun dul tragóid pearsanta i bua, níos fearr ná Patrick Donohue, Mheiriceánach Éireannach, dlíodóir feiceálach, stiúrthóir airgeadais, aislingeach, agus Daid do Sarah Jane Donohue.

Tá rud éigin i gcoitinne idir Patrick agus mise. Tá páistí speisialta ag an bheirt again, leanaí a d'fhulaing díobháil inchinne agus go bhfuilmuid araon 100% tiománta cabhrú leo cónaí ar an saol is fearr gur féidir leo.

I mí na Nollag 2006 nuair a sheol mé mo litir Nollag bliantúil chuig mo chairde agus mo chlann ar ais in Éirinn, sheol mé dán freisin mar cheap mé gur chabhraigh an dán a mhíniú an rud nach raibh míniú. B’é teideal an dán "Fáilte go dtí an Ollainn", a bhí scríofa ag Emily Kingsley, i dtaobh a leanbh faoi mhíchumas. Fostaíonn an aiste a meafar de cipíní le haghaidh saoire go dtí an Iodáil a thiocfaidh chun bheith ina díomá nuair a tailte an eitleáin ionad san Ísiltír. "Ollainn?!?" A deir tú. "Cad a dhéanann tú chiallaíonn Ollainn?? Shínigh mé suas don Iodáil! Tá mé ceaptha a bheith san Iodáil. Gach lá mo shaol a bhí mé ag tnúth le dul go dtí an Iodáil." Is é an meafar go bhfuil an turas go dtí an Iodáil breithe tipiciúil agus taithí tógála leanaí, agus go bhfuil an turas go dtí an Ollainn ag fulaingt bhfuil agus tógála leanaí a bhfuil riachtanais speisialta. "Ach tá gach duine a fhios agat gnóthach ag teacht agus ag dul ón Iodáil ... agus tá siad ag caint faoin an am iontach a bhí acu ann. Agus don chuid eile de do shaol, beidh tú ag rá "Tá, go nuair a bhí ceaptha agam a dul. Sin an méid a bhí beartaithe agam." Sa deireadh, áfach, feictear an léitheoir go bhfuil an 'turas' fós fiú go maith é: "Ach ... má chaitheann tú do shaol caoineadh ar an bhfíric nach raibh tú go dtí an Iodáil, ní féidir leat a bheith saor chun taitneamh a bhaint as na rudaí an-álainn an-speisialta ... faoi Ollainn. "

Suimiúil b’iad na línte céanna a roghnaigh Patrick Donohue le déanaí mar na línte oscailt don chlár faisnéise gairid a rinne sé chun aird a tharraignt ar iHOPE, scoil nua ceannródaíoch do leanaí le gortuithe inchinne. Naoi mbliana ó shin ar 5 Meitheamh, freisin, lá breithe Phádraig féin, a rugadh Sarah Jane Donohue ag Lenox Cnoc ospidéal Manhattan, leanbh sláintiúil, sona, le súile donn doimhne, frámaithe le fabhraí coimhthíocha tiubh dorcha. Bhí gach rud go maith leis an domhan, nó mar sin a dhealraigh sé. Go tragóideach, cúig lá ina dhiaidh sin nuair a bhí Sarah Jane sábháilteacht sa bhaile féin, lena tuismitheoirí ina chodladh sa seomra eile, bhí sí chroitheadh ​​foirtil ag a altra leanbh, is cúis le díobháil thromchúiseach: bhriseadh dá cuid cnámha múineáil, ceithre easnacha agus is cúis le dian Pediatric Gortú Inchinne Faighte - PABI. Bhí ionadh ar na dochtúirí ag an déine a díobhálacha. Ar an oíche sin, d'athraigh saol Sarah Jane agus saol a theaghlaigh go leor.

De réir a chéile thosaigh Patrick slí bheatha nua "ag athrú an domhain le haghaidh Sarah Jane". Thosaigh sé le grúpa abhcóideacht, An Sarah Jane Brain Foundation i 2007. Ansin i 2009, chuir sé le chéile Bord Comhairleach a tharraing le chéile 75 saineolaithe i réimse an díobháil inchinne ó gach cearn na Stáit Aontaithe agus Ceanada. Is é an misean a chruthú córas múnla cúraim do pháistí agus do dhaoine fásta óga atá ag fulaingt ó gach ‘Acquired Brain Injury’ in ord lenár n-eolas ar an inchinn a chur chun cinn caoga bliain thar na cúig bliana atá romhainn. An Meán Fómhair seo chaite, bunaíodh Patrick an chéad scoil i NYC do leanaí a d'fhulaing díobháil inchinne, iHOPE, an Acadamh Idirnáisiúnta an Dóchais, atá úrnua i sé cóireáil agus cur chuige maidir le leanaí le gortuithe inchinne. Sarah Jane Freastalaíonn Sarah Jane an scoil seo mar a fhreastalaíonn mo 'níon, Grace Anne agus tá athrú mór tagtha ar a saol cheana féin. www.ihopenyc.org , www.thebrainproject.org

Nuair a bhíonn dúshláin mór againn in ár saol, ní mór dúinn dhá rogha, is féidir linn a luí síos agus lig an dúshlán a shárú linn nó is féidir linn a chinneadh a tharraingt ar neart inmheánach nach raibh a fhios againn a bhí againn agus leanúint ar aghaidh lenár saol, armtha leis an gcinneadh nach bhfuil muid ag dul chun ligean seo angar shainmhíníonn.

Mar a dúirt Joe Biden le déanaí ag ócáid ​​Meiriceánach Éireannach anseo i Nua-Eabhrac: "go bhfuil rud éigin uathúil an Ghaeilge faoi dhóchas a chothabháil i bhfianaise na tragóid, go bhfuil fhios ag na hÉireannaigh" is é sin le cónaí a bheith gortaithe, ach táimid fós nach bhfuil eagla a beo. "

Chun a bheith ar lean an tseachtain seo chugainn ......

 

 

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