Joanne O Riordan, A girl who knows no limits.

Can any of us imagine as we lie there watching our pregnant belly being scanned what it would be like to be told, “I’ll just get the consultant”. At that point you know all is not what it should be. There is something wrong. Life may never be the same again.

Today I took two of my children to see an amazing film. It is the story of a young girl from Cork, Ireland, who was born with Total Amelia, no limbs. She is one of only seven in the world documented with this condition.
During the film we saw an interview with her mother. She spoke so movingly of that moment when she was told her baby was to be born with just a body. As she struggled to come to terms with it, her husband wondered what a baby with no limbs would look like. A few weeks later after a cesarean section he found out, and thankfully bonded with her immediately.

The film showed extraordinary footage of a young Joanne “standing” on the kitchen table singing “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. Even so young it was obvious this was an exceptional girl.

Very shortly after she was born her parents took her to a paediatrician. Her mother described finding undressing Joanne difficult as she was not used to a new born with no limbs. They then lay her on the couch and the doctor came over and looked at her. Without laying a finger on her he said, “She’s like a rag doll”. Not understanding his remark her mother asked him what did he mean. “Well, he said, you know when you get a doll at Christmas and after a time an arm falls off, and then a leg falls off, you know what you would then do with it?”. Joanne’s shocked parents looked at him as he said, “You put it away”.
They then understood that he was telling them this child would count for nothing, and that in time they could put her in a home.

According to them both this was their spur. After they had wiped away their tears and dressed their little one, they decided that they would prove that man wrong.

I am not sure have they done so, or has it been the amazing young lady they gave birth to, who has done it herself. In her eighteen short years of life to date she has managed to, reverse government policy, addressed the United Nations in New York and she has spoken at numerous gatherings. She is also a columnist in an Irish newspaper, and is due to finish school this year.

As I watched this film today, produced and directed by her brother, I was at times overwhelmed. We watched as she achieved so much, yet struggled to hold a fork, and manage what we consider simple tasks. There was no mention throughout the film of what she could not do. Her positive attitude was contagious. On leaving the cinema I too believed the sky is the limit.

The movie was called “No limbs, no Limits” which is  how Joanne views her life.  However my own personal favourite quote from her is “There is no such word as IMPOSSIBLE, as to me that reads I’M POSSIBLE.

If you ever get the opportunity to see this movie I urge you to watch it.
You can see a preview here. It is just over a minute long but it will live with you a lot longer.  Prepare to be inspired.

photo credit: TEDxCIT via photopin cc
photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

7 thoughts on “Joanne O Riordan, A girl who knows no limits.

  1. Sad but wonderful story. I once interviewed a woman who had special needs herself and had a son with special needs. I asked her where she gets her strength to go on each day. She said that on the Jersey shore there was a mother without any legs that was able to take care of her children so when she was having a hard day, she would think about the mom with no legs. I think we each get strength as we need it, no matter what it is or how hard it might be. Faith carries us through the hard times too.

    1. She is a real inspiration, I think having watched it her family of older siblings and her parents taught her “no limits”. I don’t think Joanne sees herself as amazing, but she definitely is.

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