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Fermanagh woman's well-intentioned bid to save diabetic with insulin jab made things worse, inquest hears


Jamie Murphy’s mother Judy with her daughters Donna Murphy (left) and Lorraine Smyth at the inquest

Jamie Murphy’s mother Judy with her daughters Donna Murphy (left) and Lorraine Smyth at the inquest

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Jamie Murphy

Jamie Murphy

Jamie Murphy

Jamie Murphy

Jamie Murphy’s mother Judy with her daughters Donna Murphy (left) and Lorraine Smyth at the inquest

An inquest has heard how a Co Fermanagh woman made desperate attempts to save her boyfriend's life while he suffered a hypoglycaemic attack.

Diabetes sufferer Jamie Murphy (26), from Enniskillen, tragically died hours after playing football and drinking with friends.

The father-of-one had a long history of the episodes, and they had worsened in the years leading up to his death.

Hypoglycaemic attacks occur when the blood glucose level suddenly becomes dangerously low. According to the NHS, it is most commonly associated with diabetes and mainly occurs if someone with the condition takes too much insulin, misses a meal or exercises too hard. It can also be triggered by malnutrition or binge drinking.

Mr Murphy, a keen sportsman who played for the Enniskillen Santos football team as well as GAA for Bellanaleck, suffered from alcohol problems which caused serious issues with his diabetes.

The night before he died on July 10, 2011, he had been drinking with girlfriend Eileen Lee at her home in Enniskillen.

The couple had only been together four weeks when he suffered the fatal hypoglycaemic attack while asleep in bed.

Ms Lee, who did not attend yesterday's inquest, said in a statement that she awoke at 4am to find Mr Murphy sweating and unresponsive.

She made him a syrup from sugar and water and used a teaspoon to put some of it into his mouth. He opened his eyes and mumbled. The couple then fell asleep, but she woke at 9am to find him in a similar state. She found his blue insulin pen and injected it into his stomach. "I was nervous about injecting him as I'd never done it before," she said.

Ms Lee gradually administered an unknown amount of insulin into his body, which ultimately played a part in his death.

After this failed to work she dabbed Lucozade around his mouth, which he appeared to respond to.

Again, the pair went back to sleep, but a few hours later Ms Lee heard him make a "gurgle" noise.

"He looked stiff and pale and I knew something wasn't right," she said. "I tried to waken him but he went stiff and his arms went straight down by his side."

Ms Lee contacted emergency services after he failed to respond.

Pathologist Dr James Lyness said Mr Murphy died from the attack following a combination of poorly controlled insulin, drinking, football, and the insulin that was injected by Ms Lee.

He said the victim suffered from regular fits, but that injecting a person who was having a hypoglycaemia attack was not the correct procedure, and this further exacerbated the situation.

Dr Ahmed Helmy told the court via video that he had previously expressed concern over Mr Murphy's control on his diabetes and his excessive drinking.

The victim's sister Lorraine Smyth described Jamie as a happy, outspoken and outgoing person, but said that his behaviour changed and he became unapproachable on the subject of his health.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said diabetics should follow the guidance to ensure their blood sugar is kept level and to seek medical assistance promptly if someone suffered an attack.

"It's clear that Jamie was well-liked and was a much-loved brother and son and is greatly missed," she added.

Belfast Telegraph