Tony O'Brien at his home in Newbridge PHOTO: AISHLING CONWAY
A retired army man has thanked people who helped save his life when he collapsed with a cardiac arrest at Cill Dara Golf Club in Kildare town last month.
It was lunchtime on June 21 and Newbridge resident Tony O’Brien was getting ready for a game of golf and taking his caddy out of his car boot when, he said, “the lights went out”.
Golf club worker Joanne Mulligan was alerted by others in the car park of the emergency and she immediately began administering CPR, and a defibrillator was also being operated.
Tony, who is aged in his 70s, said: “Joanne saved my life, pure and simple. She is my guardian angel! Only for her I’d be dead now.
He told the Leader: “I was given 12 electric shocks, and they usually stop after 10, so they must have seen some life in me!”
The retired army sergeant later regained consciousness in an ambulance on the way to Naas General Hospital where he would spend two nights.
He was later transferred to Tallaght General Hospital where he had surgery and remained there for three nights.
He and his wife Rose kept their grown-up family — who all live in New York — updated via Face Time.
He is now slowly recuperating and getting stronger every day — and he aims to be back on the golf course in coming days.
Reflecting back on the days before the incident, Tony recalled getting dizzy spells — a common tell-tale sign of heart trouble — but he ignored them.
He said: “Like a lot of men, I didn’t go to the doctor because I was was worried about what else he would fine wrong with me.
“I thought a heart attack could never happen to me, but it can and it did and people need to be aware of that.”
He wants to send out the message loud and clear that every club or community group should have a defibrillator which must be in good working order.
A modest Joanne told the Leader that she did what anybody else would have done in the circumstances at Cill Dara Golf Club.
She said: “I had completed First Aid training and part of that is how to operate a defibrillator.
“It was a team effort that day as there were other people who came to assist. ”
Joanne, who is from Mullacash near Naas, said she had heard reports since then that Tony was recovering well from his medical emergency.
Tony has written about his ordeal on his Facebook account in an effort to come to terms with what happened and to advise others of the danger of not heeding warning signs of heart problems.
He has reminded himself of how lucky he was that he was on the car park of the golf club and not several hundred metres away on the golf course when he may not have received the life-saving assistance he needed.
He added: “I’m over the moon I’m still on this earth. I see everything in life now in a new perspective. I believe in guardian angels — I didn’t before but I do now!”
Tony, who joined the army as a young man, was involved in the historic first Irish battalion to serve in Lebanon in 1978.
He later returned to the country for a second tour of duty as well as serving four terms in Cyprus.
Tony now hopes to slowly get back to the fairways and greens after he is fully recovered.
He has vowed to pay more attention to his health including diet and exercise even though he is a fit man for his age.
He said: “I’ve never had much weight on me. I’m reasonably active. I’m never too idle and I like to keep myself busy doing this or that. But this has been a major wake up call for me and I know I can count myself very lucky!”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.