Catherine finaly goes home!

There were tears of joy at the O’Leary home yesterday after Catherine O’Leary, orginally from Ballincollig, who has locked-in-syndrome returned home after spending six years in hospital and residential care. Catherine suffered a number of strokes while undergoing surgery in 2008, after complaining of constant hiccups since 2005. The strokes left her paralysed from the neck down and unable to talk. She spent the following four years as a patient at Cork University Hospital during which time her parents Pat and Margaret embarked on a campaign to bring their daughter home. After being discharged from CUH, Catherine spent a further one and a half years as a full-time resident in Farranlee House Community Nursing Unit in Cork. Speaking today following Catherine’s arrival, Mr O’Leary said it was a “very emotional day” and a happy one. “We’re delighted she’s finally home. This is what we’ve been working towards for the last six years. We don’t know ourselves. It’s a fantastic day,” he said. “She knows she’s home. You can see that. She definitely knows.” He added: “I can’t believe we’re going to get up in the morning and we’re just going to walk from our bedroom and go in and say good morning Cath. That’s everything to us.” Catherine, who requires 24 hour nursing care, can only communicate by blinking and is fed through a tube. She will be looked after round the clock by a nurse and a carer. The family successfully sued the HSE for €2.5 million last year. “This is what had enabled us to bring her home,” Mr O’Leary said. The mother of one will return to the nursing home on Friday, after spending three nights at home, and as time goes on the amount of time she spends at home will increase until she is there on a full time basis. “We hope to have her home full-time for Christmas, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. It’s a learning process for all of us,” Mr O’Leary said. Her mother Margaret said it was the end of a long battle. “It’s great to have her home where she belongs,” she said. In 2011 the voluntary housing association, Cluid Housing Association purchased a house in Carrigaline for some €250,000 and a further €57,000 was spent on an extension with a view to Catherine being discharged from hospital. The funding was provided by the Department of the Environment. But the following year her parents, who have four other children, received a letter from the HSE stating that the view of Catherine’s treating team was that her best interests are served by discharge to a “step-down facility.” At the time Mr O’Leary vowed that he would not give up until they managed to bring Catherine home.