Fundraiser for family caught up in nightmare

Local singer is badly injured in Australia

By Francesca Ryan

A West Belfast man has spent the last six weeks in an Australian hospital after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a horrific accident.

Colm Brennan, from Mount Eagles, suffered serious injuries when he was thrown from a vehicle while working at a farm in New South Wales in September.  His parents, Thomas and Teresa, have been in Australia since the accident happened while his family here in Belfast try to raise money to fund Thomas and Teresa’s stay.

Colm’s brother Damon told the Andersonstown News that he hopes to have his brother home for Christmas, but the doctors in Australia can give no time-frame for his recovery and the family could well spend the festive season on different continents.

The 25-year-old is a well-known face on the local amateur singing circuit and took part in both the F Factor at the Felons and Belfast’s Got Talent contests before deciding to go travelling.

“Colm went to Australia in February,” explained Damon.  “He was working at a farm in Warren in New South Wales and on September 17 the open-back 4X4 he was driving went down a ravine and he was thrown from the vehicle.

“He had to be airlifted from the scene and they were taking him to a hospital nearby but he quickly deteriorated on the flight and was taken on to Sydney.”

At Sydney’s Westmead Hospital a brain injury, broken vertebrae and a broken femur were diagnosed and Colm was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“As well as the break in his spine and leg, he had severe swelling on the brain,” said Damon.  “He remained in intensive care for four weeks and was then on a high dependency ward for a fortnight. He is starting to talk again now that they’ve removed the tubes from his trachea and this week he has been moved to Ryde Hospital in Sydney where they specialise in brain and spinal injuries.”

Damon says his younger brother is still in a brace and his memory is patchy but they are thankful that he is continuing to recover.

“My parents went to Australia two days after the accident and they have been there ever since.  Because of his condition, they can’t and don’t want to leave Colm until they can bring him home but we don’t know when that will be.  He is recovering in the right direction, thankfully, but we have no idea when he will be ready for the journey home and the doctors won’t say until they are 100 per cent he will be fine on the flight.  In the meantime, we have no idea how long this will go on, everything is in limbo.”

While thankfully Colm had medical insurance, the cost to the family is escalating as both parents have put their lives and jobs on hold to be with their son.  Meanwhile, family and friends here have organised a fundraiser for this weekend (Saturday, November 10 at 8pm) at the Clonard Hibs Club.

“Any money raised is for the upkeep of our parents in Australia,” said Damon.  “Our family here will be going to the event and we will be selling ballots and holding a disco. We hope people will come along and help our family by showing support at this tough time.

“All we want is to get our parents and our brother back home safe. That’s the goal.”

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