Diarmuid O’Connell is a 24-year-old teacher from Cork. But unlike most other young men of his age, Diarmuid nearly lost his life in February 2009 when his heart stopped beating.
Diarmuid collapsed to the ground with sudden cardiac arrest during a game of football.
Fortunately, for the wing forward, a fellow teacher and teammate Gerard O’Leary, 28, realised the serious nature of Diarmuid’s collapse and immediately started performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Gerard was trained by the Irish Heart as part of a CPR pilot programme in secondary schools and wasted no time stepping in to save his friend.
He said: “It was about 10 minutes into the second half when I saw Diarmuid lying on the ground. At first I thought he was winded and I ran over to see if he was okay. As soon as I reached him I could hear him struggling to breathe and I knew it was serious.
“I started CPR straight away and someone ran for a defibrillator.
When the defib arrived I gave Diarmuid a shock and continued to do CPR compressions on his chest. I had to keep doing CPR for about 15 minutes until the ambulance came.
“I should have been tired but the adrenalin was pumping. I’m just glad he’s alive.”
Meanwhile Diarmuid who was unconscious, has very little recollection of what happened.
“I don’t remember much about it. One minute I was playing football and the next I was waking up in hospital. But one thing I’m sure of is that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for CPR. I am living proof that bystander CPR saves lives,” said Diarmuid.
Since his collapse, both Diarmuid and Gerard act as ambassadors for the Irish Heart Foundation and for CPR, paying visits to schools to spread the importance of these lifesaving skills.
Please, volunteer to collect for Irish Heart’s Happy Hearts appeal on May 12th – to raise vital funds for CPR training.