Tuesday 24 October 2017

'Never underestimate allergies' – Mum 'utterly bereft' after Georgia’s tragic death

Georgia Murphy died after eating pizza with friends
Georgia Murphy
Janet Phillips and her daughter, Georgia when she was 11 at Bray Culture night
Pic of Georgia from Jan 2015

Laura Lynott

The mother of tragic Bray schoolgirl Georgia Murphy, who died of an allergic reaction after eating pizza with her pals, has paid tribute to her "friend and sidekick".

The 13-year-old's mother, actress Janet Phillips, also revealed that she starred in television ads with her daughter who died on June 21, 2015, after eating pizza and sweets with friends.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald, former Fair City actress Janet said: "We are all utterly bereft without Georgia.

"I'm haunted by the memory of her collapse on June 18, 2015, as are her dad, Niall, and her brother, Matt. We tried so hard to save her, and thought we had because we kept her heart going."

Georgia Murphy
Georgia Murphy

An inquest into the teenager's death recorded a narrative verdict on Tuesday at Dublin Coroner's Court. Georgia died from an acute anaphylactic allergic response to an ­unidentified allergen.

However, the family didn't get the answers they were hoping for - what exactly killed their beloved Georgia.

Last night Janet warned other parents to beware of potential allergy dangers, saying: "Never underestimate allergies, particularly if your child has a combination of asthma, eczema and a food allergy, as Georgia did.

BEAUTIFUL

"She died of anaphylaxis from an undetermined cause, so if you have concerns, get tested."

Janet, who said her daughter had lived a "beautiful" and fulfilled life and had so much potential, released footage to the Herald yesterday of her acting alongside Georgia in a Mother's Pride ad and of her daughter appearing with her older brother, Matt, in an Eircom commercial.

"Georgia appeared alongside her brother Matt in an Eircom commercial, a Spar commercial, and she got the lead role in an ad for Irish Pride bread," she said. "We also got to work together, playing a mother and daughter, and Georgia played daughter to me in a corporate production at Druids Glen Hotel."

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Georgia Murphy

The creative teenager also played piano and took violin lessons. She even taught herself the ukulele and opted for music as one of her Junior Cert subjects.

"She loved art and sewing and we are surrounded by her creativity in our home," Janet added.

Georgia, an asthmatic who had been diagnosed with a peanut allergy in 2003, had gone swimming, eaten pizza and drank mango juice before running a short distance to the shop with friends for ice-pops and sweets on the day she fell seriously ill.

The Newpark School pupil started to have breathing difficulties and her friends ran home for her asthma inhaler, but Georgia collapsed and had a cardiac arrest. She died three days later in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Dublin.

Georgia surpassed the expectations of most girls her age and had numerous dreams - including being a successful gymnast, playwright, cartoonist and marine biologist.

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Janet Phillips and her daughter, Georgia when she was 11 at Bray Culture night

She travelled extensively with her family and wanted to travel the world saving animals when she grew up.

Heartbreakingly, she never got the chance to fulfil her many aspirations but her mother encouraged her to dream every day of her young life.

"As soon as Georgia started to walk it was clear that she had perfect balance. Petite and perfectly proportioned, she was a natural gymnast," Janet said.

She told of the special bond she shared with Georgia, who was "almost like an only child as her siblings were that much older than her".

"When she died, a part of me died with her," Janet said.

"My heart stings every day with grief and pain knowing she will never fulfil her potential. Her big sister, Rianna - who gave her the nickname 'Duck,' when Georgia was just a toddler - made the emergency return home from her J1 experience in California to find her little sister on life support and ultimately had to watch her die.

FEARLESS

"It was an experience that I wish neither myself and Niall or our two children had to witness."

In a move to remember Georgia's life, Janet made an extraordinary tribute tracing every step of the teenager's life right up until the shock of losing her.

"Georgia, my youngest child and also my little friend. We had an extraordinary bond. She came everywhere with me, my sidekick - my shadow," she said.

"She was almost like an only child as her siblings were that much older than her. I was deeply connected to her and we had a very intuitive relationship."

Georgia's death spurred a campaign which prompted people across the world to draw ducks on walls, as part of the 'Ducks for Georgia' Facebook tribute page.

"She was fearless, multi-talented, creative and athletic but most of all she was sensitive and kind," Janet said.

"She had so many ambitions, so many things she wanted to do."

Herald

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