Video - how Portadown teenager Adam bounced back from brink of death

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A Portadown teenager who wasn’t expected to survive a devastating asthma attack last year has been honoured at the first ever Heroes of Youth Awards.

Adam McIlwrath (16) from Burnbrae Avenue was one of 11 young heroes from across Northern Ireland recognised at Belfast’s Mac theatre in an event hosted by Colin Murray.

Adam McIlwrath with his award surrounded by his family, including sister, Leah (11), Dad Robert and Mum Pamela.. INPT21-213.

Adam McIlwrath with his award surrounded by his family, including sister, Leah (11), Dad Robert and Mum Pamela.. INPT21-213.

Adam took centre-stage to receive the Special Recognition Award for his remarkable and heart-rending recovery from an asthma attack last August.

His mum Pamela told the Portadown Times about the dramatic events of that ill-fated night. Adam was studying for GSCEs at Craigavon Senior School when his life and the lives of his family were turned upside down.

“Just before midnight I heard a thump, and then I heard a second thump and I wasn’t sure what was going on, I thought someone was breaking in,” said his mum Pamela. “I told my husband Robert to go down and have a look downstairs and he came back and said Adam was lying unconscious on the floor. He was unconscious but he was breathing.

“We got him in the back of the car, but after we got him to the hospital they said he had stopped breathing and his heart had stopped. Although they got him revived, he stopping breathing again.”

Things got worse before they got better.

Pamela said, “A while later they brought us back in to say goodbye. At that stage, with our faith, Robert said a prayer and Adam’s stats, his oxygen levels and his heart rate went up enough for them to put him into an induced coma and then into ICU.”

Doctors had told Pamela and her husband that they did not see much signs of brain activity but Adam defied all expectations and after two weeks was moved out of ICU and into the ward at Craigavon. Within three months he was out of hospital altogether and he has contradicted doctors’ forecasts that he will never talk again.

And Adam is utterly determined to walk again as well.

“He wants to walk again and he has asked us for a skateboard, I’ve told him he will get one when he walks again,” said Pamela. “It’s been a difficult time, I wouldn’t wish what has happened on anyone, all the way through we have done what we thought was right.”

Adam continues to make startling progress. He has regular physio sessions and receives weekly treatment at the brain injury unit. Pamela hopes he will be able to resume his education eventually.

“Every time Adam does something new I will be onto Facebook letting people know. We are just so proud of him. For such a little boy he has touched so many people’s hearts,” added Pamela.