‘Our little hero saved my life’

Luca McCafferty and his family with Brian Griffith (12th Newtownabbey BB Captain), Irene Lowry (Vice President of The Boys' Brigade in Northern Ireland) and Joan Gray (Lieutenant in charge of the  Anchor Boys).
Luca McCafferty and his family with Brian Griffith (12th Newtownabbey BB Captain), Irene Lowry (Vice President of The Boys' Brigade in Northern Ireland) and Joan Gray (Lieutenant in charge of the Anchor Boys).
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A Newtownabbey dad has told how his brave seven-year-old son saved his life after a freak accident left him paralysed from the neck down.

Mal McCafferty had been having fun doing gymnastics with his two young sons when disaster struck.

“Suddenly I heard a pop in my neck and I was completely paralysed from the neck down,” he told the Newtownabbey Times.

As Mal, a physiotherapist, lay unable to move, seven-year-old Luca - a pupil at Whiteabbey Primary School - leapt into action and raced upstairs to telephone his grandfather and the emergency services. Little brother Kai (five), meanwhile, held his dad’s arms up to try to ease the pain.

Mal is now making good progress six months after the accident, which could have ended very differently.

He explained: “I could have died from it. The disc that popped was C3/C4, if it had been the disc above, C2, that would have been a hangman’s fracture so I would literally have hung myself.

“If it had been the disc below, C5, that is the nerve that supplies the lung, so without an airway being put in in seven seconds I would have suffocated.”

To mark Luca’s life-saving actions, officers at his Boys’ Brigade company recommended he should receive a prestigious commendation.

Captain of 12th Newtownabbey Boys’ Brigade Company, Brian Griffith, said that the entire group was proud of Luca’s actions.

“If Mal hadn’t received the proper treatment it could have had life-changing consequences, but Luca did the right thing at the right time,” he said.

• Read more in this week’s Times (on sale now)