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Thursday 22 March 2018

Heartbroken dad forced to tell his son he was dying

Fergus Black

IT was the heartbreaking news no parent should ever be forced to share with their child. The moment when a father had to tell his gravely ill son that he was going to die.

That moment came two days before Luke Murtagh -- who was diagnosed with life-threatening cystic fibrosis when he was a baby -- died at the age of 22.

John Murtagh, of Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, told how he was forced to break the dreaded news when his son Luke turned to him and asked: "Dad, am I going to die?"

"I turned to him and said yeah," Mr Murtagh said, breaking down as he recalled the awful moment.

Two days later, on May 8 last, Luke died.

The young man had bravely battled with CF all his life but despite the debilitating disease managed to travel around the world, including visiting New York for the city marathon.

Mr Murtagh spoke of the tragedy as CF patients continued to flood the airwaves demanding better treatment and isolation rooms at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

"When I told him I cried," the grief-stricken father told listeners to Joe Duffy's 'Liveline' programme.


"The two of us just hugged each other for about an hour. He got back into bed and didn't say a word. He got back out of the bed again and we hugged each other again."

Mr Murtagh said he was glad he was on air speaking about what had happened. He was speaking for Luke and for other CF patients.

He told how his son had been treated in Crumlin Hospital until he was 18 because he knew he would not have received the same treatment had he gone to St Vincent's across the city.

Luke was admitted to St Vincent's in August 2009 for a liver transplant but by December he was back in hospital as his body began to reject the transplant.

"He was put into a ward with older people, he couldn't be put in a ward with CF patients because he had MRSA. They put him in another ward maybe two weeks before he died and he contracted another bug in that ward."

Twice in the following days, his son asked him if he was going to die but his father admitted he did not know because nobody in the hospital was telling them anything.

It was only after he got permission to look at his son's X-rays that he could see the extent of the bacteria in his body and realised the gravity of the situation. "It was unfair. It was a cross-contamination that killed him in the end," he said.

Irish Independent

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