Golf pro Liam Duggan ‘had been picture of good health’ before death

The widow of a man who had been a healthy, active 37-year-old golf professional said she is still trying to understand how her husband died.

Father-of-two Liam Duggan of Ballymacelligott, Tralee died of an extremely rare form of colitis having formerly been a picture of good health, Cork Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

Catherine Duggan, widow of Liam who was formerly of Ardagh, Co Limerick, said her life changed overnight with the sudden passing of her husband on May 9, 2017.

“I don’t understand how this happened. On the 12th of April he walked in to Kerry (General) Hospital and the next day he was on life support. He was never sick. He was full of energy and he loved life. He did everything he was told to get better. He took it easy and he took his medication. All it did was made him worse.

“We have two young children who have to learn about their dad from other people’s memories of him. I am a widow at 35. I can’t make sense of it.”

Mrs Duggan told the court that Liam taught golf to up to 180 children a day and was very active and healthy. She said Liam became ill on March 17, 2017, and went to University Hospital Kerry (UHK) the following day with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea. He was diagnosed with colitis and spent nine days in hospital. 

Initially he was in intensive care but he subsequently was sent to a general ward. He was discharged from hospital on April 3.

Liam experienced rectal bleeding but doctors said this was normal. He went to an outpatient appointment on April 7 but became ill on April 12 and returned back to UHK. Mrs Duggan was told that Liam’s bowel was full of holes and his colon needed to be removed.

Mrs Duggan was informed that he needed to go to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for dialysis. He died in CUH on May 9.

Dr Tom McCormack, a consultant at UHK, said Mr Duggan had a very abnormal colon which was paper-thin and with multiple perforations. He said the golf pro had a “toxic colon” and that half of the people who have that condition do not survive.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, said Liam Duggan died of natural causes. The cause of death was given as multiple organ failure due to septic shock due to colitis. Dr Bolster said cases such as Mr Duggan’s normally involve clostridium difficile and that it was “extremely rare” that this was not present.

Cork City Coroner Mr Philip Comyn extended his sympathy to the family of the deceased who is survived by his wife Catherine and his children Jack and Amelia. He said Liam was heavily involved in teaching golf to young children and was doing “great work”.

A verdict of natural causes was recorded in the case.


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