On Saturday April 5th 2008, Stuart Mangan (25) suffered a devastating spinal injury, while playing rugby with his club Hammersmith and Fulham RFC in London. Sadly this sporting accident left Stuart totally paralyzed from the neck down.
He received world-class medical attention in the Spinal Injury Unit of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, North London. Stuart left hospital in December 2008 and he required 24-hour care which was provided by a team of full time carers around the clock.
Everyone who knew Stuart can confirm that he was a very special young man. He was a talented sportsman, excelling at rugby, golf and on horseback. He loved to travel and discover the richness of other countries and as a result spoke five languages. He truly loved life and was hugely generous and inclusive.
From the very beginning at school in St Colman's College, Fermoy, at Rockwell College, at University College Cork and at Ecole Superieure de Commerce, Paris, Stuart always showed a wonderful ability to look out for others and bring people together.
Before his accident, Stuart had just completed five years of university studies, graduating with a Law Degree from UCC and a Masters in European Business from ESC Paris, before he was hired on the trading floor of BNP Paribas in London. On arriving in London, Stuart joined Hammersmith & Fulham Rugby Club.
On the day of the accident Stuart’s third vertebrae went over his fourth and he immediately lost all movement and breathing. A team-mate kept him alive on the pitch with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the arrival of the paramedics. He was taken immediately to intensive care at Charing Cross Hospital, London, where he stayed for some days in a near coma like state with his head in traction while his family waited to hear the extent of the physical injury and if there would be any lasting damage to his brain due to oxygen deprivation.
Thankfully it was quickly confirmed Stuart suffered no brain damage. Stuart fought bravely and after four days, when he was stable enough, he was transferred to Stanmore Royal National Orthopedic Hospital to be operated on immediately by a talented team of doctors and nurses to stabilise his spine.
He subsequently spent three challenging weeks in the intensive care unit before his damaged body had sufficiently recovered for him to be transferred to the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Unit, where the expert medical team took care of him 24 hours a day until his discharge in December 2008.
Unfortunately, Stuart did not recover any movement or sensation below the level of his neck injury. He relied on a ventilator to breathe and his carers for all his physical needs 24 hours a day.
Emotionally, he showed incredible courage and determination to deal with this monumental challenge and face into the circumstances ahead of him. The horrendous injury he sustained left an indelible mark on his life as well as on the lives of his family and many friends, who continued to love, support, stimulate and encourage him in every way possible.
Stuart lived in his own apartment in West London under the constant supervision of his team of carers, he stayed there in order to be close to the hospital that had cared for him. From the time of his discharge, Stuart worked hard to stabilise and improve his physical health, as best he could. He also tried to get out and about, as much as possible, and to live as normal a life as he could.
He used voice recognition software enabling him to use a computer and keep in touch with the outside world via e-mail. He came a long way with the use of this software due to hours of work, concentration and voice training. Stuart worked with the research team from CASL, a department of University College Dublin to find ways to improve his life through the use of computers.
As you can imagine, there were good days and bad days, but Stuart had incredible resilience. Even when things seemed to get too tough for him, or just too hard to take, he would try and see the positive side and would never get down for too long. It gave him great strength when he thought of all those who helped him recover and all those who campaigned in aid of his Appeal. When he looked at all the events that happened and all the goodwill and generosity of people, he felt he couldn’t but pick himself up and soldier on.
In August 2009, Stuart developed respiratory problems and was taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. He passed away peacefully on Friday 7th August in the presence of his parents Brian and Una and his three brothers Keith, John and Barry.
His life was celebrated with services in London and Dublin, followed by his funeral mass in his home town of Fermoy, Co. Cork. His family are very grateful for the wonderful support they received throughout this time.
During his short life Stuart showed incredible energy, enthuasiasm and love for people. In the period following his accident he inspired many with his courage and greatly increased his circle of friends. In this way he left us all a great legacy.
In response to Stuart's wishes, his organs were donated for the benefit of others.