The Carrickmore man who collapsed at a GAA match on Friday night says he will never be able to fully express his gratitude to those who saved his life with the aid of a defibrillator.
Sean Gormley who collapsed at the Tyrone league game between his club and Ardboe on Friday night, has told the Ulster Herald of the impact of his dramatic rescue and his new understanding of the fragility of life.
A former All-Ireland Minor winner with the county in 1973, Mr Gormley (62) is the father of Tyrone GAA legend and three time All-Ireland senior medalist, Conor.
Along with local nurses and a doctor, Conor rushed to his father’s side when he took ill shortly before the start of the second half of the Division One game, which was subsequently abandoned.
“It was emotional when the nurses who saved me came to the hospital on Tuesday evening.
“I’ll never be able to fully thank them enough but I want to tell them how grateful I am for what they did,” he said.
“Something like this happening shows how fragile life can be. One moment I was standing normally talking about football and the next there were people battling to save my life with a machine.
“It can’t have been easy for Conor to do what he did as well. Between them all, they acted so quickly to get me the attention and help that I needed.”
Mr Gormley, who won three Tyrone senior titles with his club as part of the legendary three-in-a-row team of the ‘70s, was standing with two local men, Brendan Loughran and Ciaran McBride, when he became ill.
“All I remember is standing beside them talking about football as you’d normally be doing. The next thing I got a weak feeling and heart palpitations and felt dizzy,” he added.
“After that I must have fallen over and luckily Ciaran was there to stop me from hitting the ground. The whole thing happened so quickly and the next time I recall is waking up and seeing all the people standing around.
“The ambulance people and the staff at Craigavon Hospital were surprised at my recovery within a fairly short space of time and thankfully, there’s no lasting damage done to my heart. We have great rivalries in the GAA between clubs and counties but this shows that when something goes wrong we’re all one big family and people will do whatever they can to help. I really can’t thank the Ardboe club enough as well.”
Mr Gormley expects to remain in hospital until next week, and has been receiving a steady flow of visitors since being admitted at the weekend.
It is expected that he will have a new pacemaker fitted early next week and his experience has again highlighted the importance of having defibrillators available at local community and sports facilities.
His son, Conor, said everyone in the area is relieved that his father is now on the road to recovery.
“We’ve been getting a lot of messages from the local community and also in Ardboe,” he said.
“If there had not been a defibrillator available on Friday night, then the outcome could have been a lot worse.
“Fortunately, Ardboe’s club nurses were in the stand watching the match as well and we were able to get the defibrillator going quickly.
“There have been so many incidents over the years like this and the importance of the defibrillators being available and trained people being able to use them just can’t be stressed enough.”
The Cormac Trust, which was established following the death of Cormac McAnallen, has promoted the availability and use of defibrillators. It wants to see one located in every sports club.
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