Ryan Cinnamond the inspiration behind St Paul’s ‘Blood Drive’

Newry Times News Posted by
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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Community, News, What's On

Year 14 student Emma Martin has said that the inspiration behind her new initiative ‘Blood Drive’ is Newry’s Ryan Cinnamond.

Emma is encouraging St Paul’s High School students in Bessbrook, and the wider community, to donate blood as part of a wider community initiative on Friday 8th November.

Ryan Cinnamond was the inspiration behind ‘Blood Drive’

The story of 17-year-old Ryan Cinnamond is one of tragedy, bravery and eventual recovery. Back in November 2010, he was another sports-mad teenager, a supremely talented soccer player and Gaelic footballer.

One night, however, he complained of a severe back ache and numbness down his right leg. He went to bed after taking some pain killers, but lay awake restless and in pain most of the night.

The following morning Ryan got up and prepared for school – he had an important GCSE exam that day – but collapsed in agony minutes later, and was rushed to hospital.

Vigilant staff at Daisy Hill Hospital suspected a dissecting aortic aneurysm and ordered an emergency CT scan, which confirmed their suspicions.

Ryan was rushed to Belfast City Hospital but en route his aneurysm ruptured, and he had no pulse. Given a 10% chance of survival, Ryan lost an astonishing seven litres of blood during surgery.

The youngster, though, astounded medical staff and survived the first operation, only to be dealt another devastating blow. Doctors broke the news to his family that Ryan would have to have both legs removed – his limbs had died due to a lack of blood supply.

Following a one-month stay in the intensive care unit and several more operations, he finally came home on 20th December but after yet another setback – a blood clot on his right lung – he was admitted to Musgrave Park Hospital in January 2011, where he has been an outpatient ever since.

His recovery has been long, slow, and painful: while Ryan was completing his GCSEs in May and June of last year, he was also fitted with artificial knees.

Ryan makes progress

Doctors told him that getting used to his new prosthetic legs would be difficult and could take a long time. Ryan baffled them by taking his first tentative steps on 1st February 2011.

Emma’s blood drive is aiming to replenish the blood supply of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service in honour of Ryan and to recognise how he has battled and overcome obstacles that others might have succumbed to.

Emma, along with the Cinnamond and Martin family, is also encouraging people in the wider community to come on board and donate blood in St Paul’s on Friday 8th November.

Earlier this month, at the invitation of Emma, The Blood Transfusion Service spoke at Year 14 Assembly to officially launch the beginning of their community based ‘blood drive’ in this area.

This gave the Year 14 students a chance to understand how they can give blood, what will happen on the day and how the blood will be used afterwards.

The idea came from the Martin family, who after watching Ryan win the ‘’Young Person’s Award’ at the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards earlier this year, were shocked to hear it took such a huge amount of blood to save him.

They came up with the idea to hold a blood drive to coincide with the third year anniversary of when Ryan became ill.

Emma contacted the Cinnamond family who were delighted with the prospect of the fundraiser, as they recognised that Ryan would not have survived his illness if it had not have been for the people who had already donated blood.

It was decided to approach St Paul’s High School to host the Blood Drive as Ryan was a pupil in the school when he became ill, leaving in June 2013 and Emma will complete her A’Level exams there in 2014.

The St Paul’s community were a constant support for the Cinnamond family when Ryan was ill and have continued to support Ryan and the family up until this day, two of Ryan’s brothers are still pupils at the school.

Throughout St Paul’s High School the campaign has been in full swing since school returned in September. Emma has been working alongside Head of Health and Social Care, Mrs Christine Fearon and her Health and Social Students to publicise the campaign and to identify potential donors in the school, both students and teachers alike.

St Paul’s High School will host the ‘Blood Drive’

Year 08 students took part in a competition to ‘name’ the event with over 142 entries, several of which will be included in the campaign. Pupils from the Home Economics classes will provide refreshments on the day.

Many additional donors have been sought from the local area and in excess of 220 people have committed to donating a unit of blood on that date. It is hoped that other people may call in on the day as the session will be open to the general public.

It is hoped that this will become an annual event within the school with the campaign ethos “Giving is Living” encouraging young people aged from 17 years of age to recognise the gift that their contribution of a unit of blood will make to help save many lives.

Emma would like to thank the Cinnamond and Martin families, St Pauls’s High School teachers and pupils, Translink, CCL Services and Patricia Keenan Bessbrook for their efforts to support the blood drive by helping with the organising and accessing potential volunteers.


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