Sometime later a consultant came to speak to us. I asked him to be candid and to tell us the worst-case scenario. He explained that the prognosis was not looking good for Stephen and that he had only a 50/50 chance of surviving. If he did survive he would more than likely have brain damage and possibly would require amputation of some of his limbs.
As the day progressed, Stephen’s condition deteriorated and it was obvious by the expression on the doctors’ faces, that they thought there was little hope of a recovery. In accordance with hospital policy, Stephen was only allowed two visitors at any one time and those had to be from the immediate family.
It was 10pm and time for the doctor who had been looking after Stephen to change shift. He told us that the doctor, who was taking over his shift, was one of the best doctor’s in the hospital. Three day’s had now passed since Stephens admission. A doctor walked out of the Intensive Care Unit and asked me to read a particular pamphlet, concerning a treatment which was only at the trial stages. She enquired if we would consider trying the treatment and I replied that that we were desperate and would try anything to save Stephen’s life.
The only problem with the treatment was that, if by some miracle Stephen was to survive, there was a very high risk of him contacting the HIV Virus or Hepatitis C at a later date. This was because the treatment, a protein C blood extract, had not been fully approved and therefore to my understanding, there was the possibility of a deficit in quality control during the screening process to eliminate viruses and bacteria.
As Saturday morning arrived, Stephen’s condition was still the same and he remained in a coma. Later that evening Lily and I went to 7.30pm Mass in the hospital. On leaving the Chapel we noticed Stephen’s consultant and a new doctor who had taken over from the previous registrar, outside the door and standing to our left. The consultant called Lily and me aside saying that he had been urgently called to the hospital. As the consultant spoke, I was alarmed to see the expression on Lily’s face as the blood appeared to drain from her countenance. The consultant paused and said quietly that the news was good. There had been a change in Stephen’s condition. Stephen was responding well to the new treatment and that he could see no reason why he should not make a full recovery and told us to go home and get some sleep.
As the dawn broke on Sunday morning we were anxious to go to the hospital. When we arrived at the Intensive Care Unit I hurriedly walked over to Stephen’s bed and sat down on a chair next to his bed. I enquired of the nurse how Stephen was progressing as I had noticed that the tube (endotracheal tube) had been removed from his mouth. The nurse smiled in a very caring way “Ask Stephen how he is feeling” she said. I looked at my son tenderly and whispered gently, “Hello Stephen it’s Dad”. With that, Stephen moved his face slowly and hoarsely mumbled, “How ye Dad?”.
Over the next two weeks, Stephen gained strength daily. Within two days he was able to step out of bed and even though he had lost a lot of weight, he appeared to maintain his strength. By the end of the first week Stephen was transferred from the Intensive Care Unit to one of the general wards. As the days progressed, I would take him from the ward in a wheelchair and wheel him around the hospital grounds. Within a week, he was stepping out of the wheelchair and taking short walks.
Stephen remained in hospital for two weeks. The nurses told us that they were amazed at the manner and speed in which Stephen had recovered. Within a week, Stephen was able to walk on his own. He had made a complete recovery and one year later, Stephen received confirmation that he did not have any of the predicted possible side effects from the new treatment. He remained perfectly clear of being vulnerable to the HIV virus and Hepatitis C.