He’d been suffering severe pain since a work injury disabled him in 2007. Walking was almost impossible for him. He improvised his way through life’s most basic tasks helped by large doses of pain medication. So, for instance, he found it was easier to face his plane seat for a seven-hour flight than sit on it.
However, on the Friday morning, March 13, three and a half days after landing in New York, he walked out of St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, free of pain and medication.
“We’re privileged to follow the philosophy of the Sisters of Charity to give comfort to whoever comes to us,” said micro-neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Radna.
Sandra Byrne might regard “comfort” as something of understatement in this instance. She’d seen a miraculous transformation in her husband thanks to state-of-the-art micro-neurosurgery performed by Radna.
Last Thursday morning, the Byrnes and their 9-year-old daughter Sarah went back to the 193-bed hospital to thank the surgeon before flying to Ireland the next day.
Radna greeted the family warmly at the reception area. “When we see a smiling patient, we’re happy,” he said.
Yonkers resident John Lambert, who had made it all possible by introducing surgeon and patient, was parking the car. On March 9, he had picked up the Byrnes — who are also parents to an adult son and daughter — at the airport and brought them to and from each hospital appointment. He and his County Mayo-born wife Chris arranged the two-month accommodation for the couple and their child, as well as a multitude of basic needs such as rashers and sausages.
“You wouldn’t believe how good people have been to us,” Sandra Byrne said, but citing the Lamberts in particular.
On a recent trip home, John Lambert, who emigrated from County Wicklow in 1957, heard about the private contractor with Coillte, the state forestry agency, who’d been told by doctors could they only offer pain management and physical therapy for his debilitating injury. Lambert didn’t know Byrne personally but he did know Radna back in Yonkers.
In the circumstances, the doctors in Dublin offered the right advice, Radna believes.
“The results of spine surgery are terrible,” he said.
“It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” the micro-neurosurgeon added, referring to his colleagues with whom he has “vehement discussions” at medical conferences.
Radna, however, at Mount Sinai Hospital was a prot