Heart and stroke patients show real heart this Valentine’s

By Gillian Hogan Heart News   |   7th Feb 2022

Andrew Carr who had a stroke last year will join the 5k Love Run this Valentine’s weekend in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation.

Dubliner Andrew Carr, 31, was rushed to hospital with a stroke just two days after proposing to his girlfriend and now one year later is taking part in the 5k #LoveRun to thank the charity that helped him recover.

Andrew popped the question on Valentine’s Day last year – but 48 hours later, was in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, where doctors found a hole in his heart.

A year later, he and fiancée Bernadette Hogan are planning their wedding and Andrew is lacing up his runners for the Irish Heart Foundation’s annual 5k Love Run.

Andrew, from Coolock, had just finished a busy day at work in Trinity College last February when his speech began to slur and he felt numbness on his left side.

A CT scan and follow-up MRI confirmed a stroke and he remained in hospital for eight days.

“ It’s nice that someone can say how you are feeling when you don’t know how to say it yourself. "

Andrew Carr

“I wasn’t the same person after I had my stroke. I wasn’t thinking like I used to,” he said.

“Recuperation was tough, memory was affected and I still have to work on my speech; it is 97 per cent perfect but when I get tired it starts to get muddled, the fatigue is also very difficult.”

Andrew was referred to the Irish Heart Foundation’s Stroke Connect Service, which he described as “a light in the darkness.”

“It’s good to listen to someone who has already been there. It’s nice that someone can say how you are feeling when you don’t know how to say it yourself. It was a good opportunity to build up your confidence.

“After I had the stroke I didn’t have the confidence to talk. The group allowed me to learn from other people. That was invaluable, and there was an understanding built-in,” Andrew said.

Following discharge from hospital, Andrew collected the engagement ring for Bernadette – and last September, surgeons successfully closed the hole in his heart.

“She had two open-heart surgeries within her first 10 days of life. They were working on a heart the size of a strawberry."

Fiona Fallon

Roscommon teacher Fiona Fallon, 41, is also warming up for the Love Run after both she and her children suffered a succession of heart problems – the most serious of which involved her new born daughter Anna who had  four operations in her first seven months of life.

“When Anna as born in 2019 she seemed well at first. But the nurses and doctors found her deteriorating rapidly,” said Fiona, who also had open heart surgery at four to correct a congenital heart defect.

“Thirty-six hours later, she had gone really cold, wasn’t feeding, and was transferred to NICU. The cardiologists in Crumlin were involved and she was rushed there by ambulance.

“It was panic stations, her aorta was extremely narrow, circulation to the body wasn’t possible, she had to be put on sedation and a ventilator.

“She had two open-heart surgeries within her first 10 days of life. They were working on a heart the size of a strawberry. She was a tough little baby to survive it but it was a very traumatic time,” Fiona said.

Anna had her biggest operation in late 2019 and since then, has thrived.

Fiona said she was “eternally grateful” to the Irish Heart Foundation for all the support she and her family received, particularly through its Nurse Support Line over the past three years.

The Love Run helps raise vital funds for people like Andrew and Fiona, whose lives change overnight because of heart disease and stroke.

You can register for the Irish Heart Foundation’s 5km Love Run for €25 here. When you sign up you will receive a training plan, tips, and a beanie. If you are unable to take part, donations – personal or corporate – can be made at the same site. You can do the Love Run wherever they choose over Valentine’s weekend – February 12th/13th

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heart disease LoveRun stroke valentine's day

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