Tuesday 25 October 2016

'It's something you never expect - that you won't see her talking again' - Mum's heartbreak as daughter (5) dies from stroke on second day of school

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 13/01/2016 | 10:30

Chelene Mohan told how her little daughter Niamh died aged 5 in 2005.
Credit: RTE
Chelene Mohan told how her little daughter Niamh died aged 5 in 2005. Credit: RTE

A mother has told of her heartbreak when her beloved five-year-old daughter passed away suddenly on her second day in school.

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Chelene Mohan described her daughter Niamh as "a little chancer" who was very opinionated, loved her life and brought so much happiness to others.

Niamh was born with a heart problem that escalated into a malformation in her brain.

This meant that she suffered strokes on a regular basis.

"She couldn't stand up, couldn't walk, couldn't eat, she was tube fed.

"After one particular stroke Niamh said to me 'My smile is gone', as her mouth had been left lopsided.

"She wanted to be a firewoman, she was so determined to work with her physiotherapist Rosemary and learn to walk so that she could climb the fireman's pole," Chelene told RTE Radio One's Ryan Tubridy Show.

Chelene said that doctors warned her that one day Niamh would have a stroke and not survive it. 

"We were told she wouldn't get to her teens but we didn't live like that, you wouldn't get up everyday if you thought like that.

Chelene explained that the worst thing about the frequent strokes that Niamh suffered is that there was no warning that one was coming.

The family left the town where the lived and moved to a house in Clougherhead in the Louth countryside.

"The bungalow suited Niamh so much better than our previous home, she had access to all areas and was even able to run herself a bath," Chelene said.

Niamh was very excited to start in the local school and arrived home full of happiness and joy after her first day.

"She came in with a disposable plastic glove blown up and thought it was the best thing ever.

"On her second day she insisted on using her walker rather than the wheelchair as she wanted to show the other children that she was able to get around on her feet," Chelene said.

Chelene recalled receiving a phonecall from Niamh's school telling her to "get here quickly" as her daughter had collapsed.

"When I arrived Niamh was lying on the floor in the hall of the school.

"I got a sense as a mother, I just felt her spirit wasn't there.

"It's something you never expect - that you won't see her smiling and talking again," Chelene said.

Little Niamh received CPR at the school and was then taken to hospital in Drogheda.

Chelene travelled in the ambulance with her and said that she went straight into organisational mode.

"I was telling her that I knew I couldn't keep her.

"I didn't want her to suffer and live a life in which she didn't know what was going on.

"The kids got to say a lovely goodbye and lay in the hospital bed with her as she passed," Chelene said.

Chelene said that at first she was quite angry that she was not with Niamh when she collapsed.

However, she said that she came to terms with the fact and accepted that maybe she wasn't meant to witness the incident.

She said that a letter sent by an 18-year-old classroom assistant who was with Niamh for her final conscious hours provided great comfort to her.

"I couldn't believe how thoughtful this girl was.

"It told me everything that happened, what Niamh had played with, what she had said, she filled in all the gaps.

Chelene told host Ryan Tubridy that she feels no more could have been done to save Niamh that day.

"I was with her when it mattered and that's what's important to me," she said.

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