A group formed following the untimely death of a Corkman have vowed to continue their efforts to raise awareness of the undiagnosed condition that led to his passing.
Fermoy man Kevin O’Flynn was just 34 when he collapsed and died while playing football with his friends in 2015.
It was later discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the walls of his heart were thicker than usual.
“It is a thickening over time,” Kevin’s brother Shane explained. “And then when you’re very active the body suddenly can’t pump blood. He just dropped suddenly.
“He was a fully fit guy, he had run 10k the day before he died.”
Shane and others who were shocked at Kevin’s passing formed a group that looked to fundraise for a defibrillator for Fermoy, a goal that was achieved with the device’s official unveiling on Wednesday night.
The group have raised more than €3,000 to date. An annual Kevin O’Flynn Memorial Cup football competition due to be held tomorrow was postponed until early 2018 due to the damage caused to the pitch by ex-hurricane Ophelia.
Kevin worked as a porter at Cork University Hospital, and his former colleagues did a sponsored walk last June 21 — a short walk on the longest day — in his memory.
The defibrillator is located on the external wall of the AIB branch in the town square, and the bank also provides power to the cabinet housing the device.
The group has thanked the bank, builders, and others who provided their services to make the defibrillator a reality.
However, Shane says they still want to achieve more.
“When Kevin died, no one knew what to do,” he said. “By the time a defibrillator would have got to him it was too late. What we have learned now is that CPR needed to be done straight away.
“Our next big thing is to create a culture of awareness of how to perform CPR and chest compressions. We’ve started training nights, and had eight people in the Fermoy Youth Centre in January.
“But we want to go further. We want to get it into schools so young people will know what to do. People need to know what to do if someone drops in front of them, to not be afraid and to know that doing something is better than doing nothing.
“Ring 999 or 112 for help, but in the meantime start doing compressions and ask for a defibrillator.”
Shane also wants more screening for heart problems such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and awareness that fitness has no bearing on such conditions. He points to the ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who retired from the game after he was found to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during a routine medical.
“Who knows, if it was picked up before, Kevin may still be alive,” Shane said.
His brother’s legacy lives on, however, in the plaque that adorns the wall above the new defibrillator in the centre of Fermoy.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved