Saturday 16 December 2017

Camogie player recalls how her marker saved her life after heart attack on pitch

Michelle Herbert and her two-year-old son Conor after Newcastle West’s camogie victory over Patrickswell in May last year. Photo: Press 22
Michelle Herbert and her two-year-old son Conor after Newcastle West’s camogie victory over Patrickswell in May last year. Photo: Press 22

Harry Clarke

A camogie player who collapsed on the pitch after suffering a heart attack has recalled how her quick-thinking marker saved her life.

Mother of one Michelle Herbert was playing in the Limerick junior county final for Newcastle West against Tournafulla in October last year when she suddenly lost consciousness.

A defibrillator owned by Feohanagh Castlemahon GAA Club, where the game was played, was used to resuscitate Ms Herbert, who is in her 30s.

Michelle's husband Jer, who had brought their two-year old son Conor to the match, along with her parents Mary and James, her team manager, and her uncle Tom, a team selector, all looked on in disbelief from the sidelines as Michelle clung to life.

Speaking on the Off The Bench Podcast on Newstalk, Herbert said: "About five minutes into the second half, I just felt dizzy and I put my hurley out to steady myself and I collapsed.

"I had suffered a massive heart attack and I got between six and eight defibrillator shocks and about 12 rounds of compressions and then I was airlifted to the university hospital in Limerick.

"The girl who was marking me, Sarah-Jane Joy, is a nurse and the minute I collapsed, she took off my helmet, put me into the recovery position and she knew when she took off my helmet that it wasn't a normal situation, that I hadn't just fainted.

"So she began compressions immediately and it's only definitely for her quick thinking and her confidence that ensured that I survived.

"As you can imagine, it was a crazy situation but she took control of it and got people to move back and to try and give me room. Then there was a lot of crying and screaming so that even when the defibrillator came, she made sure that there was quiet and they could actually hear what the defibrillator was saying and there were a lot of other nurses and first aiders that came and volunteered."

Speaking to The Kerryman shortly after the incident, Sarah Jane said she didn't even think when she saw Michelle go down.

"I just tried to get her into the recovery position, took off her helmet and when I assessed her and found she wasn't breathing I started giving her CPR straight away," Sarah Jane said.

"Luckily, Coolyroe, where we were playing had an AED (defibrillator) which was just incredible and I continued CPR with the machine. She must have been shocked six to eight times. The machine analyses the patient at the same time and directs if a shock is required or not, but when we heard it say 'no shock advised' and I checked her to find her pulse back it was just unbelievable."

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