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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Young father who died in tragic ladder fall saved five lives through organ donation, inquest hears

Published 16/07/2014 | 13:35

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A young father who was fatally injured when he fell from a ladder saved the lives of five others through organ donation, an inquest heard.

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Rory Doherty (33) tragically died having suffered profound head injuries after falling eight metres while working on a sign with his father at Rosemount Business Park in Ballycoolin, Dublin 11 on June 18 last year. He died the following day.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Doherty, a father of one from Station Court View, Clonsilla, Dublin 15,  held an organ donor card and five people benefitted from transplantation as a result of his family’s decision to carry out his wishes.

Since his death his family and friends have also raised €40,000 for charity in his honour.

Mr Doherty was a director, alongside his father James and brother Gavin, of Doherty Flooring and Wood Products operating from the north Dublin business park.

James Doherty told the inquest that on the day his son fell, they were removing a sign that had been placed over their company's sign at the entrance to the business park. They borrowed a double ladder and Rory, who was not wearing a helmet, climbed it to start unscrewing the sign.

“I was holding the base of the ladder. Rory took out a couple of screws and stretched over to the corner, and with that the ladder moved and Rory fell off it. It all happened in a flash,” he said.

When paramedics arrived, Mr Doherty was unconscious. He was taken to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, where scans showed he had suffered severe head and neck injuries.

He was transferred to Beaumont Hospital for assessment and doctors there said he could not survive the injuries. He died in intensive care at Connolly Hospital on June 19.

The post-mortem found that he died as a result of a skull fracture.

Mr Doherty told the court that his son was due to marry this Friday. He had four siblings and was the youngest of four sons.

“He arrived five years after the third son so he was always very special. He was a giver all his life and carried a donor card from his teens. As a result of his organ donation, five people’s lives were saved,” he said.

He said that he was “very proud” of the “wonderful friends” his son made over his life.

“They got together and organised an annual 5 kilometre run to raise funds for cystic fibrosis which was always very close to his heart. He always said if he was going to get involved in fundraising it would be for that. 1,300 people from the general area of Castleknock ran the race and his friends in London, Canada and Sydney organised satellite runs. The money raised from that was nearly €40,000 which will go to cystic fibrosis,” he said.

The runners were also encouraged to get organ donor cards and many did.

“Rory would have been very proud of that,” he said.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigated the incident with no prosecution arising. HSA inspector Joan Flynn said that Mr Doherty fell eight metres and a blood stain on a slanted stone kerb indicated that he may have struck his head off it when he fell.

The work being carried out was outside scope of the company’s normal operations so there were no direct recommendations made by the HSA, she said.

In future the work should be carried out by a contractor preferably using an elevated mobile platform, she said. The issue of who was responsible for the signage was not investigated by the HSA or gardaí. The sign has since been removed entirely, the court heard.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking after the inquest, his sister Ailbhe Doherty said that organ donation had brought the family some comfort.

“The fact that Rory lives on in five people, it does give great comfort to ourselves. He got a donor card at the age of 19, he was with my mother at the time. I only got my card after Rory passed away but so many people now, after hearing Rory’s story, have contacted me to say that they got their donor cards too,” she said.

The ‘Race for Rory’ was held last Sunday, she said, and the Irish Kidney Association told the family that they had one of their biggest uptakes of donor cards on the day. The race was an amazing tribute to her brother, she said.

“He was very much loved,” she said.

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