Thursday 21 November 2019

The marathon man who stopped for a stretch - and ended up saving a life...

Martin Grant

A cardiology nurse saved the life of his childhood friend's wife when she collapsed while running the Dublin City Marathon.

Ken Maleady came to the rescue of Alan Leech's wife Mary in the closing stages of the race on Monday afternoon, when she suddenly took ill.

Mr Maleady, a cardiology specialist based at Connolly Hospital, Dublin, attended the same school as Mr Leech in Mullingar.

However, the pair only met each other at the marathon - more than a decade since the last time they spoke.

Mr Maleady was just over 13 miles into the race when he bumped into his old school friend Alan, who said that his wife was just ahead of him.

"I hadn't seen him in 12 years. When I got talking to her (Mary), I was just asking how she was getting on and how the legs were doing," Mr Maleady told the Irish Independent.

Marathon runner Ken Maleady
Marathon runner Ken Maleady

Once finished their chat, Ken decided to run ahead of Mary - hoping to break his four previous times.

However, stopping for a stretch may have been a decisive factor in saving Mary's life as he looked back to see she had collapsed.

"My legs were getting sore and I said I would stop for a stretch.

"I looked back and I realised that it was the woman I was running with.

"I knew by looking at her that she wasn't breathing," said Mr Maleady.

The Mullingar man started CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Although the defibrillator arrived, her heart was not beating and CPR was continued.

After three cycles, her heart started beating by itself, but Mary was not breathing. "I continued with the rescue breaths. I started breathing for her.

"Then we got oxygen … I put a drip in her abdomen for fluids.

"The main priority was to get her to hospital as soon as possible to improve her chance of survival."

Ken assisted a team of paramedics to get Mary into an ambulance.

He then continued to run the race, and crossed the finishing line with an impressive 4.12 time.

Meanwhile, Mr Leech did not realise what had happened to his wife and began to search for her at the finish line.

He was told by race organisers that she had gone to hospital but he didn't realise the seriousness of her condition.


An emotional Mr Leech yesterday told RTÉ Radio One's 'Ray D'Arcy Show' that his wife is "good" but "not taking a whole lot in".

He added that Mary remains in ICU in St Vincent's Hospital.

"She doesn't remember much about what happened yesterday. The main thing she was interested in was how she did time-wise," he said.

Fortunately, Mary is expected to make a full recovery.

"She had CT scans and brain scans and her vital organs are all looking good," Alan added.

Earlier in the year, talented sportsman John McHugh (23) died after collapsing during the Dublin half-marathon.

Mr McHugh tragically suffered a cardiac event close to the finish line in the Phoenix Park.

Irish Independent

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