Going full circle for Crumlin
When 19 year old Josh Harris was a young patient in CHI at Crumlin he made a promise to his Mum that when he was well he would do something to give back to the hospital where he and his sister spent so much time. Fast forward a few years, and Josh is living up to that promise by virtually cycling 1,440km over 18 days – the length of the Irish coastline, to raise vital funds for other sick children. But that’s not the end of the story. Josh has recently recovered from COVID19, and is happy to be counted as one of those who’ve made a full recovery.
“A few days in and I'm still feeling alright. I've been at Crumlin a lot since I was a kid. Just before I was 10 years old I was getting some tightness in my chest, and I was bruising quite easily. So I went to CHI at Crumlin, and that is when I found out that I had a Factor 9 deficiency, and Von Willebrand disease (vWD). I had to get a lot of blood tests done over the years, and every single time I fainted. It was either my Mum or Dad who brought me to hospital in the car, and I would just try to control my breathing because I was just a young teenager at that point. It was quite scary for me and sometimes I would start to get panicky. But once I got in there, and they started taking the blood tests, the very few times I did manage to stay awake, the staff were just brilliant.
I definitely felt like I was getting better at it, and getting my blood taken and getting injections. Every single time I came into the blood testing ward in the Haematology Oncology Out-Patient Service (HOOPS), they always told me the steps to keep me calm and try not to faint. I think it finally got through to me after dozens of tests.
My sister, Jemma, was also in Crumlin, and had to get surgery when she was 14 years old. She has scoliosis, and had to get metal rods in her back. It was of course very difficult for her but also very difficult for us seeing her like that in the hospital. I have scoliosis as well but it was never as bad as hers. And I'm thankful that I never had to go through that but it was difficult to see my sister go through that kind of surgery. She's doing fine today and living her life.
I've been in St. John's Ward a few times for treatment (DDAVP drip) before surgeries. I felt that I was one of the lucky ones because there were so many kids in that ward who were a lot worse off than me and they were so brave. I remember turning to my mum when I was getting my DDAVP one day and saying that one day, when I was better, I would do some kind of charity fundraising for Crumlin.
I originally wanted to do a marathon but I had to get knee surgery in Crumlin and it didn't feel right for running long distances. Unfortunately when my knee got better, I got a head injury which meant I missed most of 6th year and my original Leaving Cert exams, so I had to sit them this year instead. I feel satisfied that I have done well enough for my Leaving Cert. Hopefully I'm going to Maynooth University to study Physics, and then if I do well enough I'll go on to do my PHD as well.”
Josh is a very positive individual, and has overcome many obstacles in his young life. One of his most recent challenges has been battling COVID19, and thankfully recovering his good health.
“Right at the start of the lockdown a couple of days after they shut the schools I contracted COVID19. My parents told me that I was actually close to being sent to hospital because I was finding it difficult to breathe. Fortunately I was able to get through it without having to go to hospital but it took me six weeks to recover after it. I'm not worried about having to stay at home because I know I'm fine and nothing bad is going to happen. But I know that there are people out there who are not doing as well as me. It is sort of difficult because there are people who are in Crumlin right now who are very sick.
I just decided to do the cycle because we're not doing anything, everyone is stuck at home right and I'm not going to find out my Leaving Cert results until September so I just decided this is the right time for me to do this now. We've had the static bike for one or two years, and I was using it to get my fitness back after being sick with COVID19 which is how I got the idea for the fundraiser, it was there so I might as well use it for a good cause.”
With your support we will continue to do #WhateverItTakes
To find out more about Josh’s virtual cycle challenge and to donate click the following link: