Unfortunately for Byrne the journey was extremely difficult. He had to kneel on the floor for the seven-hour flight. His pain didn’t allow him to sit on a seat.
The trio arrived in New York on Monday, March 9, and two days later the Co. Wicklow man was under the knife at the hands of Dr. Radna.
After another two days, Byrne walked out of St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers a new man. His pain was gone and his spirits had lifted.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Byrne. “I was walking normal again and the pain was gone.”
Sandra said she “can’t say enough about how wonderful” Dr. Radna was to the family.
“He was waiting for us when we arrived the first day with open arms down in the lobby. There himself waiting and he gave us a hug. Just a fantastic man that cured my husband,” she said.
“Dr. Radna rang us about four times every day for the first week and then about five times the next week,” said Sandra, blown away by the professionalism of the surgeon.
Byrne said of Radna, who is an assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, “Hhe is the most amazing man I’ve ever met. He still emails me to see if I am okay or if I am having any discomforts. Now you wouldn’t get that from any Irish surgeon -- you wouldn’t even get to see an Irish surgeon face to face.”
“I have a whole new lease of life now,” shares Byrne as he laughs with the joy of it. “I was hardly every outside the door in the year and a half before the operation. Sure what kind of life was that.”
“Yes,” concurs Sandra relieved to see her husband happy again.
“My husband is back to his own self,” she said happily.
“Now,” said Byrne, “I feel 100%. I’m just on top of the world, honest to God. You just wouldn’t believe it if you saw me before the operation.”
Byrne rented an apartment near Lambert and his family in Yonkers for the duration of his stay in New York.
After nine weeks of recovery, of which they spent the last week with Lambert and his family in their home, Byrne got a flight back to Ireland, and this time was able to sit down and enjoy the flight.
The goal of the surgery was to decompress, or unpinch the right Lumbar-5 nerve root in Byrne’s body. Radna inserted a bone from an anonymous donor into Byrne’s spine to correct the issue. It worked.
“Dr. Radna said he only believed in using God-made material,” laughs Byrne referring to the bone from a donor.
“I fell just great now and in another year Dr. Radna said I will feel 18 again,” said Byrne through a hearty laugh.
“I’m supposed to be taking it easy but sure I’m on such a high and so happy to be rid of the pain and have my life back I can’t be kept still.”
Byrne said that although he will always be thankful to Radna for giving him his life back, he said there are two men he will always be indebted to.
“If it wasn’t for John Lambert and his brother Father Owen Lambert (who is based in Ireland). I would still be on the floor or be after committing suicide, said Byrne. “They saved my life for sure.”
Byrne also admitted he was overjoyed at the hospitality the Irish people living in Yonkers showed him and his family while they were in New York.
“People were just amazing to us over there. All John’s neighbors and everyone were lovely. And our landlady Maria is a nurse and checked up on me everyday we stayed with her,” said Byrne.
“I just can’t thank the people of Yonkers enough.”
Byrne hung up the phone like someone who had just won the Lotto, full of the joy of life. “Life is just fantastic and I intend to enjoy every last minute of it,” he said.
“If anything I’ve appreciated every single minute of the life I’ve has since the operation and if I was to go this very minute that would be okay because I wouldn’t regret a thing.”