Sunday 20 August 2017

Joyce spreading positive cardiac message

Joyce was fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) under his left collarbone, a device that performs cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of his heart.
Joyce was fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) under his left collarbone, a device that performs cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of his heart.

Jackie Cahill

The young Westmeath GAA player who suffered a cardiac arrest while on duty for his club will address an international conference in Vienna this morning.

Cathal Joyce's life was saved by a defibrillator and some quick thinking by experts present when the substitute collapsed on the touchline during a club match with Athlone in September 2015.

Joyce was subsequently fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) under his left collarbone, a device that performs cardioversion, defibrillation and pacing of his heart.

At the time, Joyce was told that he would not play contact sport again but the former Athlone Town player could win a CCFL League medal with Monksland United next Sunday, while he's also returned to play with his GAA club.

Joyce is anxious to spread the message that a normal life for cardiac arrest victims is entirely possible and having delivered an inspiration talk to a CFR (Community First Responder) group in Mullingar a couple of months ago, he has been inundated with similar requests since.

And at 9.30 this morning, Joyce will speak to an audience of hundreds in the Austrian capital, where he's attending a Physio Control event. Joyce, 26, explained: "It all came from the talk I did in Mullingar, and I've been flat out since then. The phone is hopping since.

"I'm after delivering talks all around the country, one in the college (Athlone IT), sports awards, schools as well."

Joyce is actively fund-raising for the Happy Heart Appeal, whose funding is partly directed towards CPR training in schools. And Joyce smiled: "We're nearly at the two-year mark, September. I've done a lot since then. I'd still be thick, playing but knowing I can't do as much as I'd like.

"I'm playing with common sense. If I feel tired, I'll stop. I know my body and you have to listen to your body. My next thing is looking at the Irish Heart Foundation, camps for kids with cardiomyopathy. A lot of those kids are sent to summer camps but they can't partake in them."

Joyce is also free to indulge in another of his passions, horse-riding, and rides out five or six horses most mornings, while also helping out at the Curragh, where one of his friends is a jockey.

But right now, delivering his message of hope is very much a labour of love.

He smiled: "It's expanded from rural parish halls to Vienna! I'm driving up and down the country for nothing, no expenses. Everyone's saying how I must be making a few bob but I'm not. It's for other people coming through. One of my main things is raising awareness of aftercare, which is very poor."

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