A bond formed during a life or death time of crisis has highlighted how friendship can bridge a gap between two generations and help one GAA loving pensioner back to full health.
Charlie Harkin, resident of Mill Road in Glenties but a proud Killybegs man at heart will turn 86 years young tomorrow, Friday, but if it was not for some quick thinking GAA supporters, a kind hearted nurse and a dedicated care team, he made not have lived to celebrate his next milestone.
On October 6th last year, while watching his beloved Killybegs team in Ballybofey Charlie suffered a massive cardiac arrest and effectively died on the pitch whilst congratulating the Killybegs team on their win.
Charlie’s daughter, Marina explains that out of this major scare a great friendship has now grown between Charlie and the young nurse, who comforted him on the pitch as he battled to survive hoping an ambulance would arrive in time to save him.
She explains: “A number of spectators joined to help bring him back to life, and with their tireless CPR and use of the Ballybofey club defibrillator he was stabilised and transferred by ambulance to Letterkenny Hospital. He spent three months in hospital. He had a triple bypass operation in Dublin, and recovered very slowly over the winter last year.”
Lots of people played an important part in keeping him alive on the day and on helping him recover after the operation, but one person made a special connection with Dad, Marina added.
“Last month my Dad had dinner with the lovely, young Letterkenny hospital nurse who helped to keep him alive whilst waiting for the ambulance on that fateful day. Her name was Avril Gallagher and she and her boyfriend and my Dad had a celebratory dinner at the Tara Hotel in Killybegs last month. As Dad knows the staff at the Tara very well and the whole bar celebrated. It was a very special night.”
She added: “My Dad was brilliantly looked after by Avril and all the other people who helped on October 6th last year. But a whole list of others have been instrumental in getting him to where he is now. Dr Sweeney in Ardara, Michelle Cunningham who is his district nurse in Glenties, Dr Anne Marie Moran, consultant cardiologist at Letterkenny hospital, and all the nurses at Letterkenny and Killybegs hospital, especially Carol Long who still calls to check up on him. The local community in Glenties and Killybegs have really watched out for him in his recovery.”