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How Cormac’s legacy saved the life of a GAA stalwart

Filed under: News/Events - Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

By Michael Breslin

The wife of a well known member of Brookeboro GFC has told the Herald how the prompt reaction at a GAA match, and ready access to a defibrillator, helped save her husband’s life.

The defibrillator, which is based in the club premises, was given at a reduced cost by the Cormac McAnallen Trust not long after his untimely death in 2004.

It was at a home game with Aghadrumsee, on 1st August last, Peter Boyle suffered a cardiac arrest.

His wife, Geraldine Boyle, was ‘doing the scoreboard’, and their son, Donal was playing.

Peter takes up the story: “I was doing umpire, and my heart stopped at the final whistle.

“I was out for the count. This was on Wednesday evening and I knew nothing till Friday afternoon when I woke up in the new hospital.”

But, help was fast arriving, led by the club physio, Shauna and Shane Manley, a paramedic with the Ambulance Service who was with the Aghadrumsee team.

Mrs Boyle, for one, remains very grateful for their quick response.

“There was a commotion and I thought there had been a wee row.

“I never thought till they shouted for the defibrillator that it was Peter. Everything happened very quickly after that. It was fabulous.”

She explained that, unlike a heart attack where the person gets a warning, a cardiac arrest can happen without warning.

Peter (56) confirmed as much. He suffered a heart attack 13 years ago and has been on medication since.

He and his brothers run the family building firm, and Peter was heavily involved at the club development end. He said the club was one of the first, if not the first, in Fermanagh to acquire a defibrillator.

“It’s kept outside one of the committee rooms, about 300-400 metres from where I fell, and we have a team to operate it. It gives you a shock that gets the heart rhythm started again.”

Geraldine said the entire family owed a huge debt of gratitude to the personnel from the two clubs who worked on her husband that evening.

“Their efforts, and the fact there was a defibrillator available, were significant in saving Peter’s life. We would strongly urge all clubs and groups to consider purchasing a defibrillator and to have people trained in its use.”

And, she is equally grateful to all the subsequent expertise, and care, her husband got, from the paramedics who transferred Peter to the A & E department of the South West Acute Hospital, its staff and, thereafter, the staff in the Critical Care ward, the Coronary Care ward there and in Altnagelvin and Royal Victoria hospitals.

And, she is particularly grateful to the nurses and doctors in Enniskillen, ‘who took the time to speak with us and to comfort and reassure us in those first few anxious days’.

Others in her ‘Thank you’ list are visiting priests who rendered spiritual support, neighbours, friends and work colleagues, as well as the extended Boyle and Wray families.

As for Peter, a builder by trade, he reckons he won’t be seeing another building site until after this winter.

But, he realises he’s a lucky man and, will be forever grateful that his club had the foresight to accept a defibrillator back in 2006.

This week, Cormac McAnallen’s father, Brendan said he was ecstatic that it had helped save a life. He and his wife, Brigid look after the Trust set up in their son’s name from an office in Benburb.

“Cormac had LQT, ‘long, quiet time’”, he explained. “It happens in the middle of the night whenever the heart is slow, unlike the day time.

“It’s like a machine ticking over and a spark goes out. Yes, I remember the time that Brookeboro got it. It was one of the ones we gave the defibrillator to because it was close to Tyrone.”

He reported that the Fund was going well and he explained that training in how to use the machine is now available in the Cormac Trust Fund office in Benburb.

“The training takes three hours and we usually cater for 10 people at a time.

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Re-printed from The Fermanagh Herald, September 2012 by kind permission of the Editor

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