Monday 5 December 2016

One hour after this photo was taken I was airlifted by helicopter to fight for my life in ICU

A charity cycle turned into chaos for Rosaleen Walsh (39)

Published 27/09/2016 | 14:49

Rosaleen suffered from a cardiac arrest during a charity cycle in March and was airlifted to Galway University Hospital
Rosaleen suffered from a cardiac arrest during a charity cycle in March and was airlifted to Galway University Hospital

An Irish mum has relived the moments before her heart stopped on the roadside while taking part in the charity cycle in rural Mayo which saw her airlifted to Galway for emergency care.

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Rosaleen Walsh (39) was competing in the 70km event with her brother Thomas near Westport in March, when she began experiencing heaviness in her chest 20km into the race.

The next thing the mum-of-four remembers is waking up, ventilated, in the Intensive Care Unit of Galway University Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest.

“My brother and I decided to do this charity cycle in Westport, and everything started as normal. However, about 20km in he began talking to someone and drifted away from me,” said Rosaleen.

The scene in Mayo where Rosaleen was airlifted after suffering a cardiac arrest
The scene in Mayo where Rosaleen was airlifted after suffering a cardiac arrest

“I began to feel so unwell, a real heaviness came over my chest and I actually sent him a text to say I was going to turn back. The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU in Galway, knowing I had been ventilated."

Rosaleen, a nurse from Ballymote in Sligo, was lucky to have been in the company of two nurses on the roadside, who began to administer CPR after her heart stopped and continued to do so for 27 minutes until emergency services arrived and she was airlifted to Galway.

“My brother had heard that someone had collapsed when he stopped at the first water stop, but he thought because I was a nurse that I was helping whoever it was. I was very lucky to have been cycling alongside two nurses Terese O’Grady and Jeanette Gray and also Gerry Noone, who all knew how to give CPR. They kept me alive for 27 minutes, and I would have been a goner otherwise.

“My husband got a call that I had collapsed and at first he thought that it must be a wrong number. He got a fright when he realised that it was actually me.”

Rosaleen pictured with her brother ahead of the race, where her heart stopped beating, and fellow cyclists had to administer CPR
Rosaleen pictured with her brother ahead of the race, where her heart stopped beating, and fellow cyclists had to administer CPR

After moving from the ICU, the mum was sent for further treatment in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, where she was fitted with a defibrillator, which will save her life if such an occurrence were to happen again.

Rosaleen stressed that her experience has highlighted the need for everyone to be competent when it comes to life-saving skills, which allowed her to return home to her children Sarah (9), Emma (8), Claire (7) and Conor (3) against the odds.

Rosaleen pictured with her children Sarah (9), Emma (8), Claire (7). The Sligo woman is also mum to Conor (3)
Rosaleen pictured with her children Sarah (9), Emma (8), Claire (7). The Sligo woman is also mum to Conor (3)
Rosaleen pictured with her husband Pat and their four children

“I really think children and teenagers should be learning CPR in school. It can be just a two hour class, but that two hours can mean a lifetime to somebody else. I’m so lucky to be alive and to still be here for my family. This experience has definitely allowed me to appreciate the smaller things in life,” she said.

September 29 marks World Heart Day. For more information and support visit Croi.ie, who are holding several events in support of the awareness day.

Rosaleen pictured with the people who saved her life, Therese O'Grady, Jeanette Gray and Gerry Noone
Rosaleen pictured with the people who saved her life, Therese O'Grady, Jeanette Gray and Gerry Noone

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