Mum of locked-in sufferer: ‘He’s astonishing’

The parents of a 22-year-old who has locked-in syndrome have said they are thankful their son is alive, after they rejected doctors’ calls to turn off his life-support machine.

Declan McMullan, from Northern Ireland, had a cardiac arrest three years ago, and was resuscitated five times before staying in intensive care for six weeks.

Medics urged his parents to let their son die, but they refused, and a couple of days later he woke up.


Declan has severe brain damage leaving him unable to speak, move or see, and has to be fed artificially.

But he is able to hear, and to communicate through blinking. His mother Brenda told the Belfast Telegraph she can hear Declan’s voice through his eyes.

“Even now, looking back on that awful morning when this all started three years ago, it seems like a dream. And I wonder if it really did happen. But I know it did,” Brenda said.


“However, Declan is my son, he talks with his eyes and I can hear his voice through those eyes. He is just astonishing and he’ll do anything for a laugh”, she continued.

Brenda said that: “For the moment, we are just thankful that we still have him with us”.

A video of Declan’s brother Mark singing him a song from the musical Les Miserables, has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube.

Immense courage

On a Facebook fundraising page for Declan, his family write: “Declan has an amazing sense of humour and has shown immense courage and strength throughout.

“Our amazing son has a long journey ahead, but he will travel that road with the love and support of his family, friends and the wider community.”

At the end of last year a man who also suffers from locked-in syndrome expressed his joy at being able to leave hospital and lead his life at home again before getting married.

Never give up

David Garvey said that he was “delighted” to be home again where he is able to move around in a special wheelchair and even go out on trips to the cinema.

His fiancée Bernadette said that his attitude is “to never give up on life”.

David has already earned a Masters degree in comparative literature from Trinity College Dublin and intends to write a book.