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Friday 18 August 2017

'Life will never be the same without my beautiful girl' - mum of 'diamond' jessica

Lisa Angan holds a photo of her daughter Jessica Bingham taken 12 hours before she passed away alongside Jessica's dog 'Frankie'.
Photo by Steve Humphreys
Lisa Angan holds a photo of her daughter Jessica Bingham taken 12 hours before she passed away alongside Jessica's dog 'Frankie'. Photo by Steve Humphreys
Lisa Angan holds a photo of her daughter Jessica Bingham taken 12 hours before she passed away. Photo by Steve Humphreys
Jessica Bingham on the day of her debs with Mum Lisa Angan.

Laura Lynott

The mother of a young student with spina bifida, who died after she was moved in a hoist from her bed, has paid tribute to her "kind-hearted" girl who volunteered with the homeless.

Jessica Bingham (21), from Leopardstown, Dublin 18, developed difficulty breathing on December 3, 2014, while being hoisted from her bed to a wheelchair at home by a carer.

She died a week later on December 10.

As mother Lisa Algen prepares for her third Christmas without her beloved Jessica, she paid tribute to a spirited, beautiful girl, who fought to live a normal life.

Jessica's heartbroken family have dedicated a corner of the sitting room in their home as a shrine to the deceased woman.

Her grieving mother told how Jessica's final act of compassion was feeding the homeless in the hours before the incident that led to her death.

Jessica Bingham on the day of her debs with Mum Lisa Angan.
Jessica Bingham on the day of her debs with Mum Lisa Angan.

"The night before [the hoist incident] Jessica and I stopped and talked and fed four homeless people in Dublin city," Lisa told the Herald.

"My daughter always felt for those worse off than herself. She had a kind heart and I'm absolutely proud of her.

"She was my backbone -the strongest person I've ever known and life will never be the same for me without my beautiful girl," Lisa said.

On the night of December 2, 2014, Jessica had been to see her favourite singer, Shane Filan, and Lisa gave her an early Christmas present - a meet and greet with the star.

Dreams

"Jessica was delighted. She said it was the best night of her life, that all her dreams had come true that night and she went to bed happy," Lisa said.

"The next morning she was full of chat. She never thought she'd never get to college to tell everyone about it."

After the concert, Jessica had convinced her mother to help her spend some time with Dublin city's homeless.

"Even though she was on a complete high, Jessica didn't forget the homeless," Lisa said.

"After we left the concert at the Olympia Theatre that night, she got me to stop to feed the homeless with her.

"We stopped to feed four people and she said she couldn't bare to leave them," Lisa said, breaking down.

"Jessica was up every morning early and she would go off to college and, at the weekend, she would go into Grafton Street to see the homeless.

"She had some homeless friends and she knew all their life stories. She always stopped and chatted to the homeless - it was her way of doing something good - and I am so, so proud of her for that.

"She was only ever a listening ear but people appreciated it."

Sadly, Lisa, who has two other children, Zara (11), and Adam, (18), said the inquest has not brought her peace.

Questions

"It hasn't answered questions for me," she said. "I feel no better today but Jessica and God know what happened that day. In my heart, Jessica died December 3, 2014, but the life-support machine kept her going until December 10."

Dublin Coroner's Court on Thursday recorded a narrative verdict for the young IT student's death. The cause of death was tonsillar herniation.

It was said to be due to respiratory arrest due to obesity-related hypoventilation syndrome, pathologist Dr Niamh Nolan told the hearing.

Dr Nolan said she could not say what caused the respiratory arrest.

She said that, if the young woman was bent over in the hoist, it may have been more difficult for her respiratory muscles to function, but occupational therapist Shane O'Neill said that was impossible.

"I fought every step of the way for Jessica. You have to fight the system as the parent of a disabled child," said Lisa.

"But Jessica made the most of her life.

"She was like any other 21-year-old girl, but I knew she had to have oxygen every 10 minutes and I knew, if she didn't, she could die.

"Jessica wore her oxygen supply like an accessory and she was full of life, teaching the less street-smart young people in wheelchairs a thing or two," she added.

Queen

"Jessica was a precious diamond I looked after for so many years. I was her mother, her chauffeur, her best friend, and she was the party queen while I was the party pooper.

"She was young and fun, she wanted to do everything, from being a hairdresser, to a beautician, to finally settling on IT."

Though her loss is huge and Lisa accepts she will never recover from the hurt of losing her daughter, she said it is vital that the family celebrate Christmas for the first time since Jessica's death.

She said it was her daughter's favourite time of year.

"Jessica has a corner of our sitting room. We have her ashes there and it is lit up with candles and Christmas lights and pictures," Lisa said.

"This will be our first Christmas to celebrate since Jessica's death. Jessica adored her brother and sister. Zara used to stand on the back of her wheelchair as she went along.

"Jessica was like a second mum to Zara. So it's important to mark Christmas for my children this year.

"She [Jessica] is with us all day, every day, we talk as though she's still here. She'll always be a part of this family, as our rock," Lisa added.

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