Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He Wanted to Live Life to the Full

A young Irishman who was badly injured in a rugby match about sixteen months ago died last week. This may not appear to be such an extraordinary story – until you read the whole story.

Stuart Mangan had moved to London, where he worked very successfully in a City bank. He was a talented sportsman, excelling at rugby, golf and horseriding. He spoke five languages and he loved to travel. He was also very generous and caring to others. During the course of a rugby match, playing with his London club, he suffered such an appalling injury – the third vertebrae went over the fourth vertebrae of his spine – that he was unable to speak, or to move any part of his body from his neck downwards. Following hospitalisation and surgery he was finally allowed to move to a specially adapted apartment in London, where his mother and a team of carers have looked after him since his accident.

Stuart never gave up on life, however, and his family has described how much he had been enjoying life, even to the point of going to the local pub the night before he was rushed to hospital due to respiratory problems. His mother said: ‘He worked hard before his accident and he was the same person after. He was incredible. He just kept us going and going.’

At a Mass offered in London for Stuart, Fr. Michael McGoldrick said: ‘Stuart was full of life and had faced the option of suicide and decided that was not for him. He wanted to live life to the full.’ Paying tribute to Stuart’s mother, Fr. McGoldrick went on to say that she ‘was there for him for the ups and downs and when things were bleak she kept him going.’

I was sorry to see, reading the reports about his life, that Stuart praised the family of Daniel James for helping him to commit suicide, because they "loved him enough not to selfishly hang on when he didn't want to lead a second-class life", when Stuart's own incredible response to his disability shows that being severely disabled is not a second-class life at all. He made it clear that he could have ended his life without going to Switzerland, but he saw life as full of opportunities.

Please pray for Stuart and his family, and all those who are struggling to come to terms with a disability.