Limavady woman reunited with life-saving doctor

Gerry O'Reilly with Amy Patterson, 20 years after he helped save her life
Gerry O'Reilly with Amy Patterson, 20 years after he helped save her life

A Limavady woman has enjoyed an emotional reunion with the doctor who helped save her life 20 years ago.

Hazel and Trevor Patterson’s daughter Amy was 18 months old when she was diagnosed with a rare spinal chord tumour.

They were left devastated when they were told there was nothing that could be done.

“Amy was as ill as any child could possible be, sent home to die,” said Hazel.

A breakthrough came from surgeon Tony Hockley, who said he thought he could help the tot.

It was at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where the family then met Gerry O’Reilly, who operated on Amy with Dr Hockley.

Dr O’Reilly, from Downpatrick, was working as a senior registrar at the hospital at the time, in 1996.

Recently turned 21, and in her final year at the University of Ulster Jordanstown where she is studying language and linguistics, Amy is living life to the full.

Dr Hockley has sadly passed away but, late last year, Hazel made an appeal through the Derry Journal to make contact with Dr O’Reilly, who works at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital in Yorkshire as a consultant neurosurgeon.

The appeal worked and contact was subsequently made.

This week the family met Dr O’Reilly at their home in Myroe.

“It’s absolutely amazing to meet him after all these years,” said Hazel, “and to be reunited”.

Dr O’Reilly said the reunion was a “surreal occasion”.

“It was a wonderful occasion, just beautiful – and the years just rolled back meeting Trevor and Hazel, and Amy is a beautiful young woman,” said Dr O’Reilly.