'He really is a miracle': Cork teen given hours to live at birth delivers superhero thank-you

Ryan, from Crosshaven, has spent his life battling a number of congenital heart defects, including two holes and two missing chambers.
'He really is a miracle': Cork teen given hours to live at birth delivers superhero thank-you

Marie Piper Gregan with grandson Ryan Hourihan Gregan and Libby Marah at the ‘Kevin’s Day’ event at Douglas Community Park. Picture: Jim Coughlan

AN inspirational 13-year-old battling a serious heart condition has expressed gratitude to the frontline workers who support him, by holding an event to make every child feel like a superhero.

Severe complications meant Ryan Hourihan Gregan required 12 specialists in the delivery room during his birth.

Doctors initially thought he would only live for two hours. However, more than a decade and countless heart surgeries later, Ryan organised yesterday’s superhero-themed event at Douglas Community Park, with the help of his grandmother Marie Piper-Gregan.

Ryan, from Crosshaven, has spent his life battling a number of congenital heart defects, including two holes and two missing chambers. Marie said she has lost count of the number of heart surgeries he has endured, including four major operations.

Despite this, Ryan believes that every child is a superhero fighting their own battle, including issues associated with bullying and difficulties at school.

This is what inspired the superhero theme behind their fundraiser. They named the event ‘Kevin’s Day’ in memory of Marie’s late husband, Ryan’s grandfather Kevin, who they also regarded as a superhero.

The event saw children don their favourite superhero costumes to enjoy carousel rides, food and craft stalls, as well as a dog show.

All funds from the event will be donated to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation and support for the families of seriously-ill children.

Ryan is a regular patient at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin and Marie praised the services of Ronald McDonald House, which she is able to avail of while Ryan is undergoing surgery.

“The service is beneficial to children as well as parents and grandparents because it means they can come and visit their sibling during the weekend or school holidays,” Marie said. 

“It keeps the family together during really difficult times.

“We can’t put a price on what the staff in Crumlin have done for Ryan. They really are amazing,” she said.

Marie described Ryan as “a miracle”, adding: “They said that Ryan wouldn’t survive and that’s why he was born in the Coombe. He really is a miracle.

“A lot of children are struggling in life. Some have illnesses, while others are struggling in school, but they are all super-heroes in their own special ways.”

Marie and Ryan are continuing to accept donations for the fundraiser and those wishing to donate can contact her on 086 1732469.

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