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Thursday 13 December 2018

Student died from seizure after test for epilepsy

Fiona O'Reilly: first suffered seizures as a 10-year-old
Fiona O'Reilly: first suffered seizures as a 10-year-old

Gareth Naughton

A PROMISING young PhD student died just hours after undergoing an uneventful test for epilepsy at the Blackrock Clinic, an inquest heard yesterday.

Fiona O'Reilly (23), from Pine Court in Blackrock, south Dublin, died at her home on September 7, 2010, after suffering a seizure while resting following a sleep-deprived electroencephalography (EEG) test that morning.

Describing his family's heartbreak at yesterday's hearing, Fiona's father Conor O'Reilly said: "I couldn't imagine a closer bond than the one that existed between us".

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Ms O'Reilly first experienced seizures when she was 10 years old but tests proved inconclusive.

At her last consultation in Tallaght Hospital in 2008 she was told that she had "imagined" some of her symptoms and was suffering from panic attacks rather than epilepsy.


Her GP referred her to Professor Niall Tubridy, who told the court that he decided to start afresh, ordering a number of tests, including the sEEG at Blackrock Clinic.

Its aim was to uncover abnormalities in brain activity rather than induce a seizure, he said. However, he added patients were at higher risk of seizing immediately following the procedure.

Ms O'Reilly did not sleep for 24 hours prior to the test. The EEG showed some activity consistent with epilepsy but was largely uneventful. She went home to bed.

At about 7pm, she was found face down on the floor, tangled up in her bed sheets and unresponsive. Her brother attempted CPR but when the emergency services arrived it was clear that she had been dead for some time.

The post-mortem examination found that Ms O'Reilly died from positional asphyxia caused by a probable seizure consistent with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Irish Independent

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