Belfast Telegraph

Family donate nine defibrillators to Belfast parks in bid to save lives in 'lasting legacy' to late brother

By Claire Williamson

A family, who lost their brother suddenly at the age of 48 to a heart attack, have donated nine defibrillators for Belfast parks in a bid to save lives and as a "lasting legacy" to him.

The Murphy family began fundraising following Mark's death in February last year.

A devoted husband, father and brother, Mark was a Sea Scout Leader and was on a team building event in the Skerries in Co Dublin when he suddenly collapsed.

Mark's sister, Paula Murphy-Durkan said those with him said he had been in great form and had been laughing just moments earlier as his team had won an event.

She said: "He had a flag in his hand and he turned to plant the flag and to run up a little hill and apparently he dropped very suddenly.

"There was a doctor and two nurses there but he didn't have a pulse.

"They thought at that stage something neurological had happened but they started CPR and worked for over 20 minutes until the defibrillator got to him but at no point did they get a pulse back and even after defibrillation he was gone."

Paula said the father-of-two was "larger than life" and "lived life to the full".

She added: "He was a very selfless person and we thought of something we could do that would be a legacy to him."

He had grown up enjoying the use of Cherryvale Park and his family gathered there on Friday as one of the defibrillators was unveiled.

Members of the Murphy family with Alderman Tommy Sandford at the unveiling of a new defibrillator in Cherry Vale playing fields in memory of Mark Murphy on August 17th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Members of the Murphy family with Alderman Tommy Sandford at the unveiling of a new defibrillator in Cherry Vale playing fields in memory of Mark Murphy on August 17th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Members of the Murphy family with Alderman Tommy Sandford at the unveiling of a new defibrillator in Cherry Vale playing fields in memory of Mark Murphy on August 17th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Members of the Murphy family with Alderman Tommy Sandford at the unveiling of a new defibrillator in Cherry Vale playing fields in memory of Mark Murphy on August 17th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Grace Murphy , Alderman Tommy Sandford , Paula Durkan , Deborah Murphy and Kate Murphy Members of the Murphy family with Alderman Tommy Sandford at the unveiling of a new defibrillator in Cherry Vale playing fields in memory of Mark Murphy on August 17th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

They also presented a £6,000 cheque to Chair of the People and Communities Committee Tommy Sandman, to cover the cost of installing defibrillators in more parks across the city.

Paula said it was only after his death that they became aware of research which showed survival chances for a heart attack victim is decreased by 10 per cent for each minute defibrillation is delayed.

She said: “This grim statistic really highlighted the importance of having publicly accessed defibrillators (PADs) in parks and playing fields throughout Belfast. Initially we decided to fundraise for a defibrillator for our local park Cherryvale, but thanks to the generosity of friends, family and others we are able to pay for a total of nine defibrillators.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response and thank everyone who helped raise funds including Phoenix Cycling Club and VC Iveagh. Their members cycled the equivalent of Everest - 8848 metres – at Stormont over a period of 23 hours to raise money.

“I also want to thank Belfast City Council officers for their help and for the council taking over the maintenance and management of the defibrillators."

Alderman Sandford said: “This is a wonderful gesture by a family who have suffered and are trying to prevent others from suffering – it is a tribute to their brother that his death could help save other lives. It is also a touching reflection on the strength of the family that in their pain they continued to look outwards to help others

”It has allowed the council to extend its programme of providing defibrillators in local parks,” added the Alderman.

Defibrillators have now been installed in Cherryvale, Botanic Gardens, Woodvale and playing fields at Grove, City of Belfast, Wedderburn,Blanchflower and Henry Jones as a result of the generosity of the Murphy family.

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