Forever Young

My name is Brendan O’Mahony. I met my wife Margaret when working in Aer Lingus. We married in 1969 and moved back to my home town and bought a Travel Agency. We had four sons, Fintan, Conor, Kevin and Brian – all Liverpool fans ! Fintan is a teacher, Kevin in Managing Director of Clonmel Travel and Brian works at the IMI in Sandyford. Conor studied languages at UCD and spoke fluent French and Spanish. He got a Masters degree in Portuguese from SalfordUniversity. In May 2004 he joined Pfizer in Dublin.

The world changed forever for our family on July 25th 2006. Conor had gone to play football. He returned to his apartment in Bettyglen and died from SCD. He was 32. When Conor was small his favourite question was ‘what if ? It wasn’t until after college in UCD, that ‘what if’ changed to ‘why not?’ and this new perspective on life allowed him to travel the world. But he was happiest when he was sitting in the family Nissan Sunny (with six on board)  ‘navigating’  on driving holidays through France and Spain. Singing along to ‘Is it Raining In Paris Tonight’  by Bagatelle.

In 1995 he spent the summer on a scholarship at the the University of Lisbon and he left home to work at Whirlpool in Dublin in 1996. He spent five years in their Spanish and Portuguese financial sections. He left Whirlpool in 2002. He then took a year off and travelled round the world chronicling his travels weekly in the Clonmel Nationalist. He joined Xerox in 2003 and he was chuffed when he was headhunted by Pfizer when they opened their new European Financial Shared Services Centre in Dublin in 2004

One of his colleagues, who was bereaved, wrote on his Mass card: ‘On my darkest day, Conor’s smile lit up my life’. Just when it looked like canonisation was on the cards his manager at Pfizer told how they had a swear box in the office and they had put it on Conor’s desk for his convenience!

When he took off around the world his father and mother made him promise that he would not bungee jump as they considered it too dangerous. He kept that promise about not bungee jumping but he had a ironic and  perhaps even a fatalistic view on life. In his last article from abroad he informed all and sundry, including his unsuspecting parents, that he had signed 14 waiver forms during his trip round the world, absolving the organisers of liability in case he was injured or killed. He referred to the forms as ‘send the bits to Clonmel forms’

Conor is back home now, Clonmel was always home. He accomplished  a lot in his short life. People will tell you that time will heal our loss but it doesn’t! We are still learning to live with it. Conor’s fourth anniversary co-incided with Holy Year 2010 in Santiago de Compostela. I walked the Camino Ingles in Conor’s memory and raised funds for CRY. In 2012 the book  Forever Young commemorated  the Camino walk and Conor’s Round the World journey and the proceeds went to CRY.

My first contact with CRY was with Lucia Ebbs n 2010 and she has been a constant support to our family since – thank you Lucia.

The importance of the work done by CRY is inestimable. It’s life saving. Our three boys and our six grandchildren have benefited from screening at CRY. And it’s my hope that many other will continue to benefit from their service

Brendan O’Mahony.

 

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SADS & Sports – Is there a link between the two?

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There is a common misconception that by playing sport, particularly at a very high level, this can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It is not surprising as in the last ten years we have seen some very high profile sports people who have been affected by Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Within the GAA community, Cormac MacAnallen’s death had a profound affect on a lot of people. Cormac was only 24, in the prime of his fitness and the captain of the Tyrone team. He died suddenly in his sleep on 2nd March 2004 (thecormactrust.com). More recently the young Dublin football under 21’s player Ciaran Carr collapsed while training on the pitch on 20th January 2012 and sadly died (ciarancarrfoundation.ie). Both players would have had an underlying heart condition that they were not aware of. By playing sport, this accelerated the condition (as you are putting extra strain on the heart), however, it did not cause them to collapse.

People who have heart conditions carry a slightly higher risk of sudden death during periods of fairly intensive activity than at other times. This is why as a precaution, if someone is diagnosed with a cardiac disorder they will often be advised to avoid competitive sport or endurance training as this can bring on heart failure.

Thankfully if the right equipment is nearby you can survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  The Bolton player Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch while playing against Spurs in White Hart Lane on 17th March 2012. Muamba’s heart stopped for an alarming 78 minutes and thanks to a defibrillator and the medical team nearby he survived. He has now made a full recovery. However, because of his heart condition he has had to retire from the game. Just recently CRY were delighted when the Dublin minor hurler Cormac Ryan undertook a cycle around Ireland for three charities including ours. Cormac was lucky that he discovered that he had a heart condition before anything serious happened. He is an amazing young man and is a great example of how to live well with a heart condition.

The Dublin senior football player Michael Darragh Macauley was recently screened  at the CRYP Centre in Tallaght Hospital. Thankfully he received a clean bill of health and according to Dr. Ward, he has a beautiful heart – some of the ladies may agree with this! Check out the segment below from Ireland AM.

http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/184/0/0/Ireland-AM

Orla Durkan, CRY Ireland.

If you would like to learn about CRY, find out more about our services or participate in a fundraising activity please contact me or check our website.