The mother of Portadown stab victim Simon Johnston believes his life was saved by a brave young woman police officer in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The officer stayed with Simon, who has learning difficulties, as the ambulance rushed to the scene inWest Street, attending to his deep wound and administering on-the-spot first aid.
“I know she was traumatised and we are so grateful to her,” said mother-of-five Cherie McCaughley.
“Simon understood what was going on, and he is so shocked by it all. He was in such pain and lost an awful lot of blood. He doesn’t deserve this and you wonder how anyone can be so unfeeling as to attack someone like Simon who can’t really protect himself.”
Mrs McCaughley is high in her praise for all the emergency services. The police arrived within minutes, the young WPC attended Simon until the paramedics arrived to take over, he was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital, and the six-hour operation started at 4am.
“A relative called me to tell me what happened and I went over to the hospital right away,” said Mrs McCaughley. “I couldn’t believe how the emergency services swung into action so quickly. If it hadn’t been for them, Simon wouldn’t have made it.
“When he woke up after surgery, the first thing he said to me was – ‘Mammy I’m glad I’m a blood donor, for I’ve been given a blood transfusion to save my life’ –it would have brought tears from a stone. He has given blood since he was eligible at 17.”
She added that Simon was recovering well, both physically and emotionally, “and we really enjoyed the fact that he lived to celebrate his 24th birthday. But there’s a long road ahead, and he will need the backing of family and friends.
“He loves the social network, and it has been a real lift to him that so many of his friends have been wishing him well. That is so important to him. They are outraged that this has happened, and they are helping him all they can.”
Simon will be home to his family in the Mahon Road area as the surgeons assess the way ahead. The main worry is that the tissue around his right ear may be dead, but it is thought that his hearing will not be seriously affected.
Simon was previously a pupil in the special unit at Ballyoran Primary School, followed by five years at Clounagh Junior High School special unit.