GAA player Mark McGovern thankful of second chance after critical injury
Making a miraculous recovery after critical injury in San Francisco
“We were told you need to get out here ASAP and that he may not make it through the night. Within a couple of hours there were around 20 people here in the house. It was almost like a wake.”
By two o’clock that day McGovern’s parents were on board a flight destined for the U.S., while his sisters and girlfriend Jessica followed on Monday. On the trip across the Atlantic the family was
concerned Mark’s condition would have deteriorated.
“We were just holding our phones by our sides. We were thinking people were holding out on information and feared that Mark had gone,” Graces said.
When they arrived at San Francisco General Hospital it was difficult to see a normally energetic Mark lying in a coma.
“I remember seeing him in the bed. There were machines everywhere, bleeps going on and tubes down his throat and he was lying there lifeless,” Grace recalls.
“In the first two weeks they were just trying to save his life,” she added. McGovern remained in a coma for five weeks, during which time his family maintained a bedside vigil.
As well as battling with a brain injury, he also contracted pneumonia and MRSA, but despite his weakened state he miraculously fought the viruses off.
Grace, who was forced to cancel her wedding due to the incident, recalled the difficult first weeks.
“Basically we just sat and waited,” she said.
“Every day he gave us something. The first day he flickered his eyelid, the next day he flicked his finger.
“The nurse warned it was probably his reflexes but I’m certain Mark knew we were there, subconsciously,” she says, recalling the tenacity of her brother.
McGovern himself barely remembers emerging from his coma, “When I woke up first it was very strange,” he said. Unable to talk or walk, doctors warned the recovery process would be slow.
“It’s very frustrating, when you know you can do stuff,” he says.
In early August, McGovern was transferred to Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco to undergo an intense regime of rehabilitation. His daily routine included speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Doctors told the family that McGovern had a long road to recovery.
“He couldn’t brush his own teeth, he couldn’t feed himself, couldn’t eat certain foods, and he could barely stand,” Grace recalls.
It was Mark’s girlfriend, Jessica, who played an instrumental role in him regaining his speech.
“It was Jessica, my girlfriend, she got me talking again. She got me to say my name and where I am from,” McGovern recalls.
After almost two months of rehabilitation, the young Fermanagh man has stunned healthcare professionals with his dramatic recovery. At the end of August he was released from full-time care and remains a daily outpatient visitor.
Still undergoing daily rehabilitation therapy, McGovern’s determination has played a pivotal role in his recuperation. “I am trying really hard. They are pushing me harder. That’s all the better for me as I like hard!,” he says.
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