Belfast Telegraph

GAA death: ‘We know only too well how the family feels’

By Claire McNeilly

The mother of a GAA star who died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition has said she knows the pain the Dinsmore family is going through.

Bridget McAnallen was speaking after 16-year-old Patrick Dinsmore collapsed and died during a GAA match at the weekend.

He had only been on the field at Rostrevor for 15 minutes when tragedy struck.

Mrs McAnallen — whose son Cormac died at the age of 24 — also called for a cardiac screening programme from the age of 10 or 11 years.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, she said she was “deeply touched” that the Dinsmores have asked for donations to the Cormac Trust in lieu of flowers.

“I would like to offer our sympathies to the family and I hope to be in touch with them soon,” Mrs McAnallen said.

“We have a good idea of the shock, grief and feeling of loss that they are going through. You can’t understand how it has happened to you, or your family.”

Cormac McAnallen died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition — Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) — at the age of 24.

This is a mysterious adult version of cot death syndrome which often strikes active and athletic people between the ages of 15 and 35.

Mrs McAnallen said they had been trying to raise awareness of the disease through the Cormac Trust.

“We understand that one young person dies from SADS every week in Northern Ireland,” she said.

“It is quite shocking. In the near future we would like to fund a cardiac screening programme.

“Under the current system, people have died before they got the treatment they needed.

“I feel that screening has to be made available for young people aged 10 or 11 and the Government should be paying for it.”

From the time of Cormac’s death, the McAnallen family was keen to bring public attention to the cardiac conditions that cause such sudden deaths.

Hence the family, with the assistance of the Tyrone County Board of the GAA, set up the Cormac Trust.

It aims to raise awareness of sudden cardiac deaths in young people, its causes, and to promote cardiac screening for young people throughout Ireland, especially for athletes.

It also hopes to provide education and information to raise awareness in government and among other authorities.

And it provides automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for sports clubs, for use by the whole community, and it trains people in CPR and the use of defibrillators.

Another SADS victim was the rugby player John McCall, from Collone, near Armagh city.

He was just 18 when he collapsed and died while playing for the Ireland under-19 team against New Zealand in Durban, South Africa, in March 2004.

Belfast Telegraph


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