I especially have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. In fact nothing short of a miracle ocurred for me 26 years ago this week. My story once appeared on the front page of the local section of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution on Thanksgiving of 2000. While some of the info is outdated the story is not and I want to share.
Thankful for . . .
Their son, 18, who faced dire prognoses when he was born
Robert Haddocks – Staff
Thursday, November 23, 2000
Brian Donegan was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate so severe that his mouth was agape and he essentially did not have a nose. He had a heart defect that deprived him of oxygen, and he was blind. If that were not enough to deal with, pneumonia set in. And when he was barely 2 months old, Brian’s chest was ripped open by doctors who repaired his heart in the first of 10 surgeries he would have before his second birthday.
“The prognosis was real grim,” said his mother, Carol Donegan of Lawrenceville. Doctors told her and her husband, David, that if Brian survived it would most likely be in a vegetative state. At the time of his birth, they gave him six weeks to live.
That was 18 years ago. Today, Brian is a bright, energetic, ambitious high school senior with an indomitable spirit and a remarkably positive outlook.
“If something gets me down, it doesn’t get me down for long,” Brian said. “I’m not ever down for the count. I always find something to look positively on.” He quickly counters any perceived negative with a balancing positive. His most bothersome limitation is his vision. He’s legally blind, which keeps him from having a driver’s license. “Sometimes, people are busy, and I can’t get to where I want to go, but my parents make plenty of accommodations, and they do the very best they can,” he said.
Defying the doctors’ prognoses, Brian is not only healthy, he’s a straight A student who scored 1110 on the SAT. Dressed in jeans and a bright orange Parkview High School sweatshirt, Brian is an ordinary kid. An avid sports fan, he has a bedroom decorated with Atlanta sports paraphernalia, mostly from the Braves. Like most teens, he enjoys spending time on the computer, hammering at an electronic keyboard, and, in a slight deviation from the norm, listening to music from the 1950s. One of his hobbies is spinning records, and he plans on majoring in broadcast journalism at a university in Georgia and becoming an “oldies” disc jockey.
David Donegan believes Brian will overcome any obstacle in his path — as he always has. Brian plans to live close to public transportation or “make his mark on the world where he’s independently wealthy and he can have a driver,” his father said. “Whatever he does, I feel he’ll make an impact on this world, and the world will be a better place because he’s here.”
“He is such a constant surprise,” Carol said of her son, who volunteers at the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta and is co-president of the center’s STARS (Social Therapeutic And Recreational Services) program.
“He has a lot going for him and has a personality that can handle anything that comes his way,” she said. “He always has a smile and a bright spirit. We’re just thankful that the doctors were able to help when he just about died 18 years ago.”
Brian is scheduled for surgery on his jaw in the spring — his 18th surgery. He endured a lot of teasing in middle school, and, although that has mostly ceased, he still has to fight against ignorance.
“My biggest obstacle has been getting people to understand my disability and to understand that I’m a human being just like everyone else, and I can do things just as well or maybe better than anyone else.”
Standing in the kitchen of his Lawrenceville home, David Donegan acknowledged difficult times. But he said: “I wouldn’t want to walk in anyone else’s shoes.” David, who has two younger sons — Jeff, 15, and Kevin, 13 — truly believes every day is a blessing.
“When Brian was born and they said he had six weeks to live, and he might not last that long, we just knew that we would love him and take care of him as long as we had him,” he said. “And we’re just happy that it’s been a lot longer than six weeks,” David said. “We very much left that up to God,” Carol said of the early days. “You can’t second guess any of that. We just had to leave that up to God, and he did a pretty good job. He did a great job.”
For an update and for more on me and my story you can click HERE
As you can see I have a lot to be thankful on Thanksgiving and every day of the year. I hope that today you will take time to pause and thank God for our many gifts and blessings. We are truly blessed! As for me I am blessed to have some of the best friends anyone could wish to have through the campaign (not to mention the many exciting experiences I have had in the past year). We’ve been through a lot and have done fantastic things together in the past year. May we continue to work together for our causes and principles!
Have a blessed & Happy Thanksgiving!